Updated: You can read about the blogger event I attended in Sydney here, and my initial review of the product here.
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.
Frank: It is always a joy to read your items. Especially when you are letting the world know about new products. You tend to see these well before we do in the states.
I want you to know i referred your blog to the TUDiabetes blog page for the week of February 29, 2016. I hope this brings you some additional readership.
Hey, Sydney. - Type 1 Writes - Diabetes Blog
[…] What is the FreeStyle Libre, you ask? It’s a glucose monitor that measures blood glucose readings by “scanning” a small round sensor worn on the arm, rather than traditional finger pricking. I wrote about it in more detail over here. […]
Hi Frank, Where can you buy the Libre in Melbourne?
Hi Jacqui, to my knowledge the Libre is only sold online at FreeStyleLibre.com.au. Also, my review of the product is here if you haven’t already seen it:
DO NOT GET THIS THING!
The difference in measured level from sensor and finger prick is just too big! I woke up at 5am and Libre ended showing 3.7 and I freaked out! 3.7 for me is really low, but I thought I would test my blood the old fashion way and it was 6.8! I was just about to take 2-3 glucose tablets (which were totally unnecessary as you can see) because Libre said 3.9 and said “still going down”. 2-3 glucose tablets when I was really 6.8 would had left me at 14-ish!
I have documented all these discrepancies because it is more or less every day it happens! The other day it had my sugar level dropping from 4.3 to 3.7 in 90 seconds and the worst one is 4.3 Libre…7.4 finger blood!
All this thing has done is stress me out to a point where I had a full blown panic attack because it showed 3.4 and I am one of those people where BGL drops really quick even with the insulin I inject, so 3.4 is actually quite dangerous for me. My BGL MUST be over 6 at all times (sometimes difficult) but it gives me a “safety buffer” so I can get the glucose into me!
Would I recommend it…NO…NOT IN A MILLION YEARS! I’d rather prick my fingers 20 times a day and get an ACCURATE reading than scan myself like a dog with a microchip and get a grossly incorrect reading. 🙂
I got the new Libre and love it. It’s pretty accurate by 0.2 of a difference to trying with strips. I’m pretty aware of hypos coming on so don’t rely on Libre but would use strips. Meters can be faulty if there’s big variance.
I have now had 4 different discs on…had it checked by my Endocrinologist and there is nothing wrong with the reader per se but the differences are still fairly high…up to 3 between Libre and blood strip! The Libre 9 out of 10 times will show a lower BGL than the finger strip eg Libre 3.4….finger strip 6.2. Now ppl might say well that is not so bad then but it is if you think you are having a hypo….take your glucose tablets just to find out your BGL is now 15 because it wasn’t “low” to begin with!
I STILL don’t trust it! I trust what my body is telling me and if in doubt…ALWAYS the blood test strip!
I hear you. I found it frustrating at times, and after meals it often pronounced movements in my BGLs quite rapidly and ran higher than finger sticks. However others have told me they find it extremely accurate. I guess our bodies all respond differently. I did touch on this here:
I have decided to keep the Libre on in conjunction with specialist so she can download the readings and use it as a “guideline” sorta speak but I will never trust the reading 100%. If I am shaking and sweating and Libre tells me 6.5…I know it is incorrect because those are the first signs I am going into a hypo and with me…BGL drops really fast (it dropped from 4.6 to 3.7 in 90 seconds AGAIN the other day) if I have not had enough carbs for breakfast. I take Lantus long-acting insulin at 10pm and a Jardiance pill when I wake up to pee out excess sugar during the day. I find this a better combination for me than the Humalog insulin which has 25% rapid-acting and 75% long acting insulin and must be taken twice a day. My body reacts fairly negative to rapid-acting insulin and BGL drops too quick.
Because my diabetes was undiagnosed for a while even though I told my GP SOMETHING wasn’t right cuz I was losing weight for no reason (my husband said he could see it and I went on the scales and I had lost 10kg) and my stomach was hurting all the time (which wasn’t my stomach apparently but my pancreas screaming for help)…so when he FINALLY started listening and got his finger out of his ****….sugar levels were at an average of 20…my pancreas is now damaged and possibly irreversibly and it was shutting my kidneys down so they now only run at 54% capacity on good days and I developed SEVERE Hypercalcemia to a point I had one foot in the grave. My calcium levels were 3.78…if they get to 4 it is more than likely fatal. All this because GP wouldn’t listen and just take the simple tests. So I am not like other ppl with diabetes who’s “hypos” start showing symptoms at 4….mine start showing symptoms below 6….if BGL gets to 5 I am sweating like I have been running a marathon and shaking like crazy and the day I was stuck on the toilet with a gastro infection and it was 3.4 and still going down…I started getting heart palpitations…dizzy…spoke really slowly like I was drunk…vision got extremely blurred and head started pounding until I got the glucose into me.
Specialist says most diabetics can handle 3.4 easily…but because my BGL had been allowed to run at 20 and possibly higher for god knows how long…my body reacts sooner going into hypos if that makes sense! So the Libre IS good I guess cuz I can take it with me everywhere and also my glucose tablets and keep a close eye on what is going on at ALL times!
I was so excited when this product finally hit Australian shores, I have used 8 sensors so far and 2 of them were way out ie consistently more than 3mmol different from a finger prick. The other 6 were spot on. Given the large financial investment but lack of quality I am reconsidering the value of the Libre system, I have lost confidence, after all I don’t have diabetes 75% of the time! The customer support line are not very supportive, ie I had to keep using the sensor until the end of the 14 days then send back, and they did not refund. The concept is great especially for exercising- no more stopping my running to do a finger prick it’s so convenient, just wish the product was reliable. Here’s hoping a competitor makes Abbott lift their game. Until then I will consider the other, more expensive but reliable CGMs out there.
I am considering too to can the Libre. Yet again yesterday….Libre 7.8….blood 13.6…..it is just too big a difference to trust it 🙁
My daughter started using libre today. Libre says 4.6, checking with blood glucose machine 9.? I wasn’t expecting this difference. We have spent alot of $
Hi Eva, I have found some discrepancies with the Libre as well. I find the greatest differences after meals, and when my levels are high. This post might be useful to you.
The libre is not a continuous glucose monitor, or in other words the scan is delayed by 15 minutes. The discrepancy between sensor and finger prices could be what your BS was 15 minutes ago.
Hi Erin, that’s correct. It’s not a Continuous Glucose Monitor, however it does provide Continuous Glucose Data when the reader is scanned against the sensor. Both the Libre and a Continuous Glucose Monitor measure interstitial fluid, which means there is a lag in the data. I was informed that the Libre lag is around 6 minutes. Thanks for your comment!
Hi. I am on my first sensor and I find the difference between finger pricking and the sensor to be minimal. The highest difference I had was by one point with the Libre reading higher than the blood from my finger. Hope it continues this way because I love this device!!
You are lucky! My Libre showed 3.8…finger prick showed 9.7…just way too big a discrepancy and dangerous really cuz I thought I was headed for s massive low 🙁