VeraLight's Perfect Storm in Diabetes Screening
In January 2005, the CMS added diabetes screening to its select handful of reimbursed screening tests, paving the way for VeraLight Inc., a new company developing a non-invasive alternative to the current standard diabetes screening test, fasting blood glucose.
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In the past, it has been challenging for developers of non-invasive glucose monitoring systems based on optical platforms to separate out the signal generated by glucose from a high level of background "noise." Freedom Meditech, which uses a beam of red light to detect the concentration of glucose in the eye, believes it overcomes this problem and expects to sell its devices directly to consumers and through traditional diabetes product distribution channels. The company is also in the final stages of development with an in-office diabetes screening system that employs similar technology to identify individuals who may have undiagnosed diabetes or pre-diabetes.
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With an increasing emphasis on tight glycemic control in diabetes care, innovative devices could play a big role, but diabetes is a deceptively complex market. Innovative companies need to differentiate themselves, yet not venture too far outside existing industry dynamics. As the first real-time continuous glucose monitors come to market, a handful of start-ups hopes to be ready for the second generation. Many of these are taking a side excursion into the market for in-hospital glucose monitoring, once a sleepy market but now growing rapidly as outcomes data shows reduced mortality and morbidty in intensively managed hyperglycemic hospital patients.