FreeStyle Libre: Questions and Answers from #DX2Melbourne

I’m back home today after a whirlwind two days spent at Abbott’s Diabetes Exchange event in Melbourne. The event was filled with such insightful and stimulating conversation, that my mind was still buzzing at 11.20pm last night when I finally crawled into bed at home.

Abbott covered my travel expenses from Perth to be there, but they did not pay for my opinions here or anywhere else. I am really grateful that Abbott are continuing these consumer conversations after last year’s DX2Sydney event, when they clearly didn’t need to. Perhaps my views are biased because I was a part of these conversations, but I am really enthusiastic about the FreeStyle Libre. My experience with it has been largely positive, and it continues to be a part time member of my diabetes toolbox.

It was fantastic to hear the Abbott team acknowledge and even encourage those little tips and tricks that people out there are already doing, even if they couldn’t technically endorse them. Like letting the sensor sit for a day after application before starting it up. Or the Rockadex patches and other adhesives that people are buying from small businesses online. I loved that they were somewhat aware of what people are doing out there in the real world.

Through my blog, through e-mails and through my circles here in Perth, I have received a great deal of feedback on the FreeStyle Libre. People either love it or hate it. Today, I thought i’d start by sharing some of the feedback I received from Abbott over the past two days. While I’m doing my best to relay what I heard and talked about, I can’t guarantee that these words are 100% accurate.

External adhesives.

Hands up if you’ve had a sensor fall off? During the days of warm weather, t-shirts and outdoor activities, that sensor is simply not sticky enough for me. Jessica Shi, Abbott’s QA and RA Manager, tells me that any external adhesive needs to be of medical grade in order for it to be officially endorsed.

Inaccuracy of the sensor when levels are high.

Ever had the Libre tell you that your blood sugar was 18mmol, while a fingerstick gave you a reading of 13mmol? There was definitely a conscensus among the room that some of us had difficulty trusting the sensor at times.

Bruce Passingham, Abbott’s Scientific Affairs Manager, told us he’s interested in hearing about each individual’s circumstances. There might be other conditions or medications that could be affecting results. He also touched on hydration as well, which is a no brainer for me when my levels are a little stubborn.

The biggest takeaway here is to make sure you call customer service. I am so surprised at the number of people who tell me that they haven’t bothered to. All of my issues have been resolved through customer service, and a few bloggers in the room praised the express shipping of replacement sensors.

When will we see the Libre funded by the Australian government?

Earlier this year, the Department of Health was seeking submissions from consumers to potentially get the FreeStyle Libre funded through the National Diabetes Services Scheme. It’s currently a bit of a watch this space…

Are there any plans to add alarms to alert users of dropping blood glucose levels?

In reference to the likes of Dexcom and Medtronic, Abbott have reminded us that their product is not a Continuous Glucose Monitor. It is a replacement for finger sticks.

How many people will an automated insulin delivery system actually reach?

Recent headlines out of the US have surrounded the partnership between Abbott and Bigfoot Biomedical, makers of an automated insulin delivery system. “Next generation” FreeStyle Libre sensors will supply glucose data, which Bigfoot’s system will use to automatically deliver insulin and regulate glucose levels.

My question to the team was around how many people the end product will actually reach. I was told that this next-gen Libre sensor can also be paired with a Bluetooth enabled insulin pen, which will provide smart dosing advice for those on Multiple Daily Injections. Abbott expect that their product will reach a greater number of people through the options for people with type 1 on Multiple Daily Injections, and those with type 2 diabetes.

Obviously, don’t expect to see anything like this to hit Australian shores for a long, long time…

This doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of a very stimulating two days of diabetes conversation, and I’ll have more to follow in the coming days. You can also keep an eye on these bloggers who were in attendance, for their perspectives on the event.

Further disclosures: Abbott supplied me with a new FreeStyle Libre reader, two sensors, and a lovely goodie bag with some pens, paper and a few other bits of branded stationery. I was put up in a room at the Blackman Hotel in Melbourne for one night. I was also fed and watered across the duration of the event.

En Route to #DX2Melbourne!

I’m in Melbourne today for the second Australian Diabetes Exchange Squared blogger event, hosted by Abbott Diabetes Care.

I’m really excited for the opportunity to get together with this group of advocates one year on from our last convention in Sydney for the launch of the FreeStyle Libre. I think it’s fantastic that Abbott are still keen to engage with us beyond the successful launch of their product. Last year’s experience left me feeling extremely valued – right down to afternoon tea from my favourite Cannoli shop in Sydney discovered through some blog stalking. So, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for #DX2Melbourne (and I’m not just talking about Cannoli…)

Take my enthusiasm with a grain of salt, because Abbott have covered my travel costs from Perth to be here. They will also be putting me up this evening, and I expect there will be a few other perks which I will disclose in due course. Abbott do not pay for my opinions here or anywhere else – those remain my own.

If the talk among my circles is anything to go by, there are a lot of divided opinions on the FreeStyle Libre. I’m expecting that there will be a great deal of discussion over the next two days, and hopefully we will have the opportunity to pose our questions and feedback to the Abbott team. 

Tonight I will be participating in a live webcast with a panel of diabetes bloggers in attendance. The topic of discussion is the mental, emotional and psychological aspects of diabetes. The webcast is open to anyone, simply register your name and email address here. 

The best way to follow along from the proceedings today and tomorrow is to hop onto Twitter and follow #DX2Melbourne. Also keep an eye on the Type 1 Writes Facebook page, as I’ll be posting updates there as well. 

Feel free to leave me any questions in the comments below, and I will endeavour to pass them on to the Abbott team.


A queue full of people greeted me, as I approached the end of a long line. I began removing the watch from my wrist, unlooping the belt from my waist, and loosening the clasp on my Medic Alert bracelet. I shoved those items into the front pocket of my satchel. I pulled my wallet out from the front pocket of my Chinos, and my iPhone from the inside pocket of my Lost Highway jacket. 

As I approached the conveyor belt, I grabbed two of the orange trays and placed my belongings onto them. Feeling more confident than the last time I did this, I approached the gate and took a step through.


The shrill noise hurt my ears.

One of the security staff told me to take a step back, while asking if I was wearing anything that might set the alarm off. 

I have type 1 diabetes. I’m wearing an insulin pump, I said, pulling it out of my pocket and gesturing wildly. 

He told me to take a step aside, and onto the square mat behind a gate that was situated adjacent to the walk through. I watched as he motioned to his colleagues that I needed a pat down.

I was left scratching my head, convinced that my Animas Vibe hadn’t set off any alarms in the past. 

Another member of security approached, and I was told to remove my jacket and send it through the scanner. The likely culprit, I later suspected. 

I was escorted through the gate and asked if I wished to have my pat down conducted in a private room, which I politely declined.

He asked me where I was travelling today, which didn’t really make me feel any more comfortable.

As I stood there with my arms stretched out wide, I felt incriminated.

As comfortable and open as I am with my diabetes, I didn’t like this one bit.