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Prognosis

Sensors to Smartphones Bring Patent Wars to Diabetes Monitoring

  • Glucose, cholesterol monitors see rise in patent applications
  • Companies like Abbott, DexCom, Roche jockey for market share
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Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

Diabetes treatment has evolved since Mary Fortune was diagnosed in 1967 and hospitalized because there was no reliable way monitor her blood sugar. These days, a glucose skin patch transmits her levels day and night to her iPhone and shares the data with others.

Fortune and other diabetics are benefiting from an explosion in technology and innovation, from under-the-skin sensors that eliminate the need for painful finger pricks, to smartphone alerts when glucose levels rise too high. But the technology, and its integration with mobile devices, has brought the types of lawsuits typically seen by Silicon Valley companies.