New technology gets me very, very excited so it was with great interest that I sat through the Abbott symposium showcasing their new FreeStyle Libre glucose monitoring device. Two and a half hours later and I was desperate to get my hands on one of these new devices.
Abbott call this their ‘flash glucose monitoring system’. It’s not continuous glucose monitoring as we know it. There is no integration between pump and sensor device. This is different.
Click here to read about how this device works, but basically, there is a sensor worn under the skin (positioned on the upper arm). The sensor, a white little disc, is about the size of a twenty-cent coin. A ‘reader’ is scanned over the sensor to give a glucose reading. That’s it. And there is no calibration required. The sensor lasts 14 days and Abbott says that this system eliminates the need to do finger prick tests.
That’s right – no more jabbing a lancet into your fingers. No more inserting a strip into a device, taking a blood sample, wiping it on the strip and waiting five seconds for the meter to count down and give you your number. Instead, just a swipe of the reader for an immediate result.
I should point out that the reader does also double as a BGL and ketone meter. At the symposium, it was mentioned that a finger prick test is recommended during periods of high variability.
Okay – so that’s all the good stuff. But I do have a couple of concerns.
First up, let’s talk about how it looks. (Yep, this is where I am being shallow.) There is no doubt that the sensor in this system is small. In fact, it has a tiny profile – only millimeters high. However, it is white and noticeable and has to be worn on the upper arm. I know that if I were wearing it, I’d be spending a lot of time explaining what the little white disc stuck to my arm is all about, and that would start to annoy me pretty quickly. I didn’t get a chance to ask why it couldn’t be worn elsewhere, but plan do to that when I visit the Abbott stand during the conference.
The cost of this device is yet to be announced in Australia. In Europe, the sensors will be around the €60, which, using today’s exchange rate, equals about AUD$86. This is not affordable tech. This is not going to be within the reach of most people. And that means, that once again, we have a situation where people with diabetes don’t have access to the latest, most convenient technology.
Also yet to be announced is the release date for the Libre in Australia – again this is something that I will be asking about later this week, however I suspect that the team here won’t be able to give me much idea about that. I might need to wait until I get home to get a better idea of when it will be available for Aussies. I do want to point out that the Abbott EU team should be commended in having given a sneak preview of the device to a significant number of peer leaders. How fantastic to have people with diabetes talking about this – and talking about the real experience of using the device – rather than us having to rely solely on the glossy collateral and impressions of HCPs.
But despite any concerns, make no mistake – this is a game changer. This tech has the potential to redefine self-monitoring in ways that we’ve not seen yet. For me, the benefit of not having to prick my finger to check my BGL is a huge, huge bonus and I know that there are many people who find this the thing they hate most about diabetes management.
This is exciting. I want it, and, at the risk of sounding like Veruca Salt, I want it now!
The symposium I attended was sponsored by Abbott. I was not paid to attend the Symposium nor to write about this product. Abbott has not supplied me with any products in the FreeStyle Libre range. This blog post is just my impressions based on what I heard at the Symposium I attended and from people with diabetes who have been using the device.