New data shows that the painless, Freestyle Libre 14-day sensor considerably reduces the cost of self-monitoring blood glucose for patients.
In the United States alone, approximately 34 million people have diabetes, and the national cost of diabetes was more than $327 billion in 2017. People living with diabetes have 2.3 times higher medical expenditure than those without, and on average, occur annual medical expenses of approximately $9,601 concerning diabetes. Studies show that 27% of diabetes-related expenses are due to self-monitoring of blood glucose, including meters and test strips.
Self-monitoring of blood glucose is essential to ensure that blood glucose levels remain in a healthy range. If blood glucose levels become too high, or too low, then a person with diabetes can become unwell, and potentially cause long-term damage to the body. The American Diabetes Association recommends that patients on an intensive insulin regime should self-monitor their glucose 6-10 times daily. In reality, studies show that patients test themselves an average of 2.6 times per day. Cost, pain, self-consciousness, and having difficulty remembering to test are some of the reasons why the recommended guidelines are not met. When considering cost, 33% of people with diabetes worldwide have rationed their blood glucose testing supplies.
Recently, a new, flash, continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system has been developed providing an alternative to traditional finger-prick testing, metres and test strips. The Freestyle Libre 14-day sensor automatically measures and continuously stores glucose readings. It is painless, discreet and takes one second to scan. The sensor is applied to the back of the upper arm, lasting for 14 days, and wirelessly transfers data to a handheld reader.
With the development of this new technology, researchers decided to compare the cost of using a flash CGM system with traditional self-monitoring of glucose using finger-prick testing. Published in US Endocrinology, the cost was analysed from a US private payer perspective.
Results from the cost analysis showed that the annual cost of using the Freestyle Libre 14-day sensor was 61% and 63% lower (for people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes respectively), than traditional self-monitoring of glucose using finger-prick testing. The annual cost of traditional testing was $4380 for a patient with type 1 diabetes mellitus compared to $1712 for flash CGM.
Overall, 50% in average costs associated with low blood sugar (including hospitalisations and emergency room visits) were estimated when using the Freestyle Libre 14-day sensor compared to traditional finger-prick blood glucose monitoring.
When considering US private paying patients, the flash CGM system provides cost savings that may highlight a reduction in severe low blood sugar episodes. The Freestyle Libre flash CGM system is currently being used by over two million people across 46 different countries and partial reimbursement has been secured in 36 of these countries (including Canada, the US, and the UK). This change in technology is not only affordable but offers a non-invasive and discreet way of managing diabetes. Further studies would be beneficial to assess changes in behaviour leading to improved glucose monitoring adherence with flash CGM technology.
Written by Helen Massy, BSc.
Diabetes.org. 2020. Statistics | ADA. [online] Available at: <https://www.diabetes.org/resources/statistics> [Accessed 9 June 2020].
EurekAlert!. 2020. New Data Show Abbott’s Freestyle® Libre 14 Day System Significantly Reduces Costs Associated With Diabetes Management And Complications. [online] Available at: <https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-06/ghn-ps060420.php> [Accessed 9 June 2020].
Freestyle.abbott. 2020. Freestyle Libre | Abbott. [online] Available at: <https://www.freestyle.abbott/ca/en/products/libre.html?gclid=CjwKCAjw5vz2BRAtEiwAbcVIL5CQxAFgu4xS4RiZX2BSU38viZ5bkkaljoi-egwToAGpXeVb4FRghxoCVIAQAvD_BwE> [Accessed 9 June 2020].
Shi, L. and Hellmund, R., 2020. Cost Comparison of Flash Continuous Glucose Monitoring with Self-monitoring of Blood Glucose in Adults with Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes Using Intensive Insulin—From a US Private Payer Perspective. US Endocrinology, 16(1), p.24.
Yeaw, J., Lee, W., Aagren, M. and Christensen, T., 2012. Cost of Self-Monitoring of Blood Glucose in the United States Among Patients on an Insulin Regimen for Diabetes. Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy, 18(1), pp.21-32.
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