FDA's Blood Glucose Statement Doesn't Mean We Won't See It on the Apple Watch

Yesterday's FDA announcement about blood glucose testing, at first glance, seemed like bad news for anyone hoping to see a feature in future Apple Watch.

But while the health agency is absolutely right to take a cautious approach, that doesn't mean we should give up hope …

FDA’s blood glucose statement

The notice was unusually blunt: It went beyond warnings about accuracy limitations and noted that no existing devices are FDA-approved. The headline was clear:

Do not use smart watches or smart rings to measure blood glucose: FDA safety message

The actual text was a little more circumspect, noting “risks”; use of unapproved devices, but also contains a very strong reminder of the potential consequences.

Taking too much of these medications can quickly lead to dangerously low glucose levels, which leads to confusion, coma or death within hours of the error.

And the advice was equally clear:

Do not buy or use smart watches or smart rings that claim to measure your blood glucose.

But this applies to current devices, not future ones

But it's important to emphasize that the FDA is not saying that non-invasive blood sugar measurement is impossible – only that no one has yet created a reliable device.

And even if the FDA said it was impossible, that's still nothing it wouldn't mean. As Nelson Mandela famously said, “It always seems impossible until it's done.”

Viable light bulbs used to be considered impossible. Driving at speeds greater than 30 mph. Flight is heavier than air. Splitting the atom. Running a mile in four minutes. Skyscrapers. Sending a man to the moon. Cardiac Surgery.

Reliable, non-invasive blood glucose measurement is one of the Holy Grails of medical technology, with many researchers working on it in both academic institutions and industry. A huge amount of money, time and effort has been invested into this. Sooner or later, someone will solve the problem – and will do it to the FDA's satisfaction.

That someone may or may not work for Apple. If not, Apple will either buy the company or license the technology. But there is at least a decent chance that this problem will be solved as a result of a partnership between academia and Apple using the health research approach that the company pioneered back in 2017.

Indeed, the FDA was so impressed that it gave Apple access to a pilot program specifically designed to accelerate the adoption of new health technologies.

So I am 100% confident that we will do this one day. see an Apple Watch with non-invasive blood sugar measurement and that it will have the necessary FDA approval. It's a question of “when”, not a question of “if”.

Photo by Brandon Romanchuk on Unsplash

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