I have now been wearing the Freestyle Libre flash monitor for ten days and have some initial thoughts to share.
I wasn’t sure what to think of the Libre before using it. I had heard stories of people absolutely loving it and other tales of people not really being all that impressed. I was certainly excited to try it, as I am with any new technology and was interested to see how my experience compared with friends who had already had a go.
I went in with a very open mind, albeit a mind that has been completely and utterly won over by Dexcom and CGM technology.
Overall, I love this device and can see why, where and how it would be brilliant for some people and now, after a week and a half, have a better idea of where it fits in my diabetes management.
The insertion was simple. I could go into a whole lot of detail about how it works and what it looks like, but a very clever young lady has made a very cool video of it and she is far cuter than me. You can see it at the end of today’s post. (The caveat to this is that Ms Pumplette in the video is under 18 years and, at this stage, the Libre only has TGA approval (i.e. in Australia) for adults.)
I will just add that it was completely painless for me. As in: Did. Not. Feel. It.
The device is discreet. I have mine attached just under my upper arm, so it is completely hidden, even when wearing a short-sleeved shirt. This placement also means less likelihood of ripping it off on a doorframe or similar. The profile of the Libre sensor is fabulous – tiny, flat and completely unobtrusive. (But if you would like to pimp it, of course there is a cottage industry making lovely patches to stick either over the top of the white disc, or to augment the tape around it.)
I have found the device to be incredibly accurate – when compared with both my BGL meter and Dex. We were warned that new sensors could take up to 24 hours to start to read accurately, however I found the new Libre sensor to sync with my devices as soon as the 60 minute warm up period was over.
Obviously, one of the biggest selling points of the Libre is its convenience and there is a lot to be said for the incredible ease of just scanning a device over my arm rather than doing a BGL check.
I had a couple of Dex-less days and found that the Libre was brilliant, especially considering that within 2 hours of my last Dex sensor dying, I had a horrid hypo that left me feeling vulnerable and scared and more than a little fragile. I had the Libre scanner in my back pocket (replacing my iPhone as the reader for my Dex) and was scanning every 30 minutes or so which was very reassuring.
The less good (I am reluctant to use the word bad here)
The cost is going to prove prohibitive, with sensors coming in at $95 each, which is above both Medtronic and Dex sensors. Being factory set, there is no possibility of extending the 14-day sensor-life. I’ve not used Medtronic sensors for a while now, but from what I read, most people get a max of 14 days out of theirs. I get about 21 days from a Dex sensor – at which point I rip it out because I start to get a little grossed-out. (But I do know people routinely leave theirs in for longer.)
The reader/scanner for the Libre is $95 and is rechargeable. This is certainly a point of difference when comparing with CGM transmitters, which have a battery life of either 3 or 6 months (depending on the product you use), and cost significantly more. (Add a CGM receiver to the cost and the price goes up a whole lot more.) This is where the affordability of the Libre runs rings around the CGM devices.
I just want to quietly flag supply issues which I hope will not be a problem here in Australia. The Libre is not quite available for purchase here in Australia, but is only weeks away. At DX2Sydney, I asked if there are any supply concerns similar to those that plagued the product’s release in the UK and EU and was assured that there really should not be here in Australia. I suspect that part of the reason the launch was not immediately after TGA approval was to make sure that there would be product available.
The verdict for me
So, is this a product I would continue to use? Well, yes. And no.
I really like and I trust the Libre. Accuracy for me is THE most important measure when it comes to any diabetes device (whether that be measuring my glucose levels or delivering insulin). From that perspective, I found this to be a winner.
But the lack of alarms is a problem for me. As someone with impaired hypo awareness, being able to catch those lows is important and I can’t do that without a system that warms me. The Libre doesn’t do that.
HOWEVER – this is not a CGM device and therefore, I understand I need to frame it in that way. This is a replacement for BG monitoring and BG monitors do not alarm and I have no expectation that it will. Despite being a sensor, the Libre is meant a substitute for finger pricks and meters. Currently, I check my BG twice a day to calibrate my Dex. If I was not wearing CGM, I would absolutely use Libre over a BGL meter any day.
Pumplette talks Libre
DX2Sydney was being coordinated and run by Abbott Diabetes Care. The costs for me to attend the two day event (travel, accommodation, meals and transfers) were covered by Abbott. All attendees received Freestyle Libre products (one scanner and two sensors) so we could trial the new device.
There was no expectation that I would write about the event or my thoughts of the device. Abbott may have paid for me to attend, but they did not pay for my words on this blog, social media activity or anywhere else. I like to share, so that’s why I decided to write about my experience.