Okay, well in case you haven’t heard this news already…
Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre Flash Glucose Monitoring System recently received approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration in Australia, and is expected to be launched in the Australian market in the coming months.
The Glucose Monitoring System consists of a small round sensor that is worn on the back of the upper arm, and a “reader” that looks very similar to a blood glucose meter. Users need only scan the reader over the attached sensor in order to receive a reading, and 8 hours worth of historical data.
The Libre has a few key differences that sets itself apart from a traditional Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM). The sensor appears to be much more discrete, approximately the size of two stacked 20 cent coins. Sensors also have a life of 14 days, as opposed to traditional CGMs which last up to 7. Abbott also claims that the Libre eliminates the need for finger pricking, making glucose testing more convenient and discrete. Alternative CGMs need calibrating with finger pricks, and only guarantee glucose trends rather than historical data.
Unlike a CGM, however, the Libre is not a “live” glucose monitoring device. It is up to the user to complete the scan in order to obtain a glucose result and historical data. There are no alarms or indicators to alert the user when they are going high or low. I also don’t believe that there is any “sharing” functionality of data through smartphones, which many CGM users in the DOC place a high value on. It appears that data can be downloaded to a computer and generated in report format, similar to the Insulinx meter I have been using recently.
I know that many folks in the Diabetes Online Community do pay for the convenience, live data, sharing and peace of mind that a CGM offers them. I know that many have come to rely on this standard in their diabetes management, and I wouldn’t expect that the Libre would hold much appeal here.
I have previously expressed reasons for not wanting a CGM myself. I’m quite motivated to do my finger pricks as much as I need to. I’ll be switching to an insulin pump in May, and I can’t say I’m keen on wearing two devices. I can’t say that I could handle seeing “live” data all the time. At $75 for a sensor that lasts only 7 days, I can’t say that I can afford it either.
I believe that this is where the Libre would hold the greatest appeal.
I also know that for many who would like one, a CGM is out of reach. At a time where there is a strong push for greater access to glucose monitoring technology in Australia, the arrival of a new competitor in the Libre is an encouraging sign. I have only heard positive things about the Libre from European folks in the DOC who have tried it after traditional finger pricking.
The biggest factor here is likely to be the cost of the Sensors, which need replacing every 14 days. While Abbott is yet to comment, Seven News speculates a shelf price of $100 per sensor. Given that CGM sensors are not currently subsidised by the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) in Australia, I would not expect that Libre sensors would be, either.
You can read more about the FreeStyle Libre, and sign up for e-mail updates at freestylelibre.com.au.
Disclosure: Abbott sent me a Press Release regarding this news. I was not asked or paid to write this, and all opinions expressed here are my own.