Medical waste generated by diabetes care, especially from the infusion sets and reservoirs needed for insulin delivery with insulin pumps, poses a major problem for sustainability and ecological impact within the market. These devices are heavily reliant upon single-use plastics due to the need for sterilised components and ease of use for patients. In the insulin pump market, reusability for infusion sets and reservoirs is significantly more difficult and expensive to achieve without compromise in these areas.

However, diabetes device manufacturers such as Medtronic have developed longer-lasting devices that could alleviate part of this problem. The Medtronic MiniMed extended infusion set and extended infusion reservoir are designed to last seven days – more than twice as long as a standard infusion set. A standard infusion set and reservoir last two to three days, depending on the patient’s insulin requirements. In a year this amounts to anywhere from 120 to 180 sets and cartridges per patient. If a patient were to start using the extended infusion set, this number drops to 52. As such, these new devices have the potential to reduce the amount of medical waste by approximately 60%. The sets also maintain the ease of use and sterilised components that are necessary for patients.

Diabetes treatment can become less wasteful

According to GlobalData forecasts, there were an estimated 545,682 patients using insulin pumps in the US as of 2023. With current infusion sets, the total number of infusion sets and reservoirs used in the US is therefore close to 100 million. With innovations such as the Extended Infusion Set, this number could be brought down to less than 40 million. Currently, there is only one combined long-term infusion set and reservoir available on the market, according to the GlobalData marketed products database.

Extended infusion sets and reservoirs are a growing niche within the insulin pump market. In addition to saving patients’ time and energy by reducing the number of set changes, these extended sets have the potential to reduce the amount of medical waste generated by the diabetes care device market by a significant percentage. As the use of this and similar devices increases, it is likely that diabetes treatment will become less wasteful while maintaining patients’ standard of care.

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