Good news for diabetics: this week a new device was approved for monitoring blood sugar without the need of a finger prick. With 30 million Americans living with diabetes, the approval of this new device could make life a lot easier for many people.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first at-home CGM (continuous glucose monitor) that doesn’t use a needle. It’s called FreeStyle Libre Flash. Abbott Laboratories developed this system that allows diabetics to go without finger pricking for up to 10 consecutive days.
The devices should be on sale in the U.S. by the end of the year, and are already available in 41 other countries. Patients already using the devices in Europe check their glucose levels an average of 16 times a day. Pricing hasn’t been released yet, but the prices will most likely be similar to in Europe, where the reader and sensor cost around $69 each. The cost will most likely be covered fully or partially by insurance. The new system was designed to be affordable and accessible, costing much less than other continuous glucose monitoring systems that are available.
The devices are waterproof and can be worn for up to 10 days. The sensor is the size of two stacked quarters and can be “stamped” into the skin. A reader wand is waved over it whenever you want to check your blood glucose. There is a small wire under the sensor that goes under the skin. The FreeStyle Libre Flash offers a generally painless and less invasive process.
With the new FreeStyle Libre Flash system, diabetics can:
- Apply the sensor by themselves to the back of their upper arm, in their own home without having to visit a doctor.
- Scan the sensor in one second by waving a small hand-held reader over the sensor.
- See glucose level trends and review glucose history of 8 hours.
- Check blood sugar though clothing, and wear it in the shower and in the pool.
- Avoid acetaminophen while using this CGM system.
Continuous monitoring allows for more data to be gathered to better manage diabetes over a longer period of time. The new FreeStyle Libre system does not communicate with an insulin pump, but manufacturers are working with a Silicon Valley company to get this technology going. At the moment, the device is only for adults, but Abbott hopes to get approval for children under 18 in the near future.
“What we see with the FreeStyle Libre system is patients gaining a better understanding of the impact of food, exercise and specific medications on their glucose levels due to availability of the data, which is important in the day-to-day management of diabetes and for behavioral changes towards improved diabetes control,” said Maria Tulpan, M.D. of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, NY.
To get the new device, which should be available later this year, visit your doctor to get a prescription.