Skip to content

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

FDA Advisory Panel Approves New Type of Diabetic Monitor

WebMD Health News

Dec. 6, 1999 (Washington) -- An advisory panel to the FDA unanimously recommended for approval a wristwatch-like device that measures a diabetic's blood sugar without requiring as many frequent, painful fingersticks. The GlucoWatch, as it's called, offers continuous glucose monitoring with a visual readout and a distinctive beep in case a patient's blood sugar rises or falls to a dangerous level.

However, the Clinical Chemistry and Toxicology Devices Panel also said on Monday the FDA should require an extensive patient education program with the device as well as post-market studies about its use as a detection tool for blood sugar fluctuations. GlucoWatch is meant to improve glucose control by detecting trends and patterns, but not replace blood sugar measurements obtained from traditional fingersticks.

Panelist Arlan Rosenbloom, MD, of the University of Florida, tells WebMD he finds the novel technology exciting, and a possible step toward an "automatic pancreas," which would only be possible with a continuous monitoring system. "It's a new tool with new information, and we just have to learn a lot more about it," says Rosenbloom. Currently, the device is indicated for those aged 18 and above, but a number of individuals testified at the meeting that GlucoWatch could and should be used for children, including an 11-year old diabetic who said he had invested in the company making the device.

Manufactured by Cygnus Inc. of Redwood City, Calif., the GlucoWatch was compared to the traditional needlestick measurements in 473 diabetic patients -- two-thirds with type 1, or the juvenile form of the disease, and the rest suffering from type 2, or adult-onset diabetes. The patients wore the wristwatch-like device at home for five days, and in four studies Cygnus collected 13,000 "paired data points" to evaluate the GlucoWatch vs. the fingerstick.

Also known as a "biographer," the noninvasive GlucoWatch is intended to provide automatic readings at the rate of three per hour for up to 12 hours. However, a three-hour warm-up period is required to acclimatize the device to a person's skin, followed by a single stick to calibrate the system. The GlucoWatch is paired with a sensing device that is taped on the wrist. The sensor contains discs with the enzyme glucose oxidase.

1 | 2 | 3

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
kenneth fujioka, md
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Middle aged person
Home Healthcare

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
type 2 diabetes
food fitness planner