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DexCom Teams Its Glucose Monitor With British Insulin Pump

DEXCOM INC.

CEO: Terrance Gregg.

Revenue: $48.6 million in 2010; $29.7 million in 2009.

Net loss: $55.2 million for FY ending December 2010; $53.5 million for the 12 months ended Dec. 31, 2009.

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No. of local employees: 405 full-time.

Headquarters: Sorrento Valley.

Year founded: 2005.

Stock symbol and exchange: DXCM on the Nasdaq.

Company description: Developer of continuous glucose sensing technologies.

With the British launch of the first insulin pump linked to the continuous glucose monitor developed by San Diego medical device company DexCom Inc., diabetics are steps closer to the holy grail of diabetes management: the artificial pancreas.

DexCom, founded by Terrance Gregg in 2005, teamed up with the British company Animas Corp. to launch the combination insulin pump and monitor in May, according to Gregg, DexCom’s chief executive officer.

“At DexCom, we know what we are and what we are not,” Gregg said. “We are experts in the sensor technology and we don’t want to develop pumps when there are fine companies already doing a great job of it.”

The company holds about a 40 percent market share for continuous glucose monitoring products, and it’s a big market, according to biotech and medical device analyst John McCamant. “There’s a substantial market for this product — at least $13 billion this year,” he said. “The diabetes market is very large, but a company needs a well-developed sales force to reach all the endocrinologists and to leverage the market.”

DexCom builds very accurate and comfortable sensors that help diabetics keep track of their blood sugar levels with startling accuracy. The tracking helps them avoid the toxic, health-destroying highs and lows.

Health Care Maintenance

“Monitoring is a large part of the core diabetes business — the more often and more accurate you can test and monitor your glucose levels, the better it is for you,” McCamant said. “You limit the long-term complications of diabetes and these devices are far less painful and invasive so people actually use them.”

Gregg said that many people at DexCom wear the monitor even though they don’t have diabetes and have learned a great deal about how their bodies react to physical and mental stress, food, exercise and life in general.

This season’s 22 Biggest Losers on the hit NBC series all wore the DexCom Seven monitors — a promotion DexCom decided against paying for.

“We elected not to pay the product placement fees but you see them when contestants lift their jerseys,” Gregg said. “They use them so the staff can show the contestants how their bodies are reacting to exercise and food.”

The monitors offer a mountain of information, taking 39,000 measurements every minute, aggregating the measurements every five minutes and showing them on graphs with trend arrows. DexCom’s monitor is the only U.S. Food and Drug Administration monitor approved for seven days of continuous wear. They’re worn on the abdomen with two thread-sized sensors touching the skin.

“A patient can use the information to protect their health,” Gregg said. “We saw reductions in incidence of hypoglycemia and reductions in the use of insulin, for example, and the monitors guide patients to have the ability to achieve sustainability of healthy glucose levels.”

Doctor Uses Monitor

Dr. Steven Edelman, who teaches endocrinology at UC San Diego and practices at the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System in La Jolla, is also a diabetic who uses the DexCom monitor.

“I have to carry around two devices, a controller and a monitor,” he said. “I’ve been living with the disease for 40 years, and for 36 of them I had to stick myself to test my glucose levels. Life is so much better for me with a monitor.”

What he and his patients learn from the monitor is often surprising, he said.

“I learned things I had no clue about for 36 years of living with diabetes. I learned how exercise affects me and interacts with my glucose levels — not the way I thought,” Edelman said. “Having a monitor is really an eye-opening experience that gives a diabetic a lot of information we can use to fight for our health.”

Since 2008, most insurance companies have been paying for continuous glucose monitors for diabetics, a move that followed a Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation report that found that kids had far fewer emergencies, better health and better diets when they used a monitor. All of those things represent lower expenditures and better health, Edelman said.

Dedicated to Fighting Diabetes

Gregg retired from his position as president and CEO of Medtronic MiniMed Inc. in 2002, where he did much the same work. He and his wife, Louise, served for a year as chair of the research committee of the American Diabetes Association, while he quietly registered the DexCom name with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. By 2005, the company was up and running as a publicly held company — though it has not yet shown a profit.

“What’s great about this work is the people I get to work with. Many of them came with me because they hate the disease as much as I do,” Gregg said. “We have doubled our revenues in the past year and there’s ample indication that we’ll be profitable soon.”

Gregg, who came from another leading diabetes product company, is glad more people can have the device and access to better control and management of the disease — and not just for the company.

“I hate this disease and I love the diabetes fighting space,” Gregg said. “My wife and I are committed to fighting diabetes as our sole philanthropy and I want it to be my legacy that I made a difference in people’s lives by fighting this disease.”

Marty Graham is a freelance writer for the San Diego Business Journal.

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