It seems that you can’t go a day lately without hearing about GLP-1 medications in the news, on social media or in advertising.
All this buzz makes it difficult to separate the memes from the material science — especially for people who are interested in using these drugs to lose weight as a means of managing their diabetes.
As a leader in diabetes care whose FreeStyle Libre continuous glucose monitoring systems are helping more than 5 million around the world, we’ve been analyzing what these weight-loss drugs can mean for people managing their condition.
And here’s what we’re seeing: a complementary relationship between GLP-1 and CGM.
“What we discovered was that people who were using (our FreeStyle Libre continuous glucose monitors) and GLP1s were using more of both of the products,” our Chairman and CEO Robert Ford said in a recent interview. “So I think this is a story of both products being used in combination and providing great outcomes and outcome benefits.”
Let’s go a little deeper into each of these categories. Here’s more of what to know about GLP1 medications and continuous glucose monitors.
GLP-1 and Type 2 Diabetes
GLP-1 medicines, short for glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist (GLP-1 RA), are not new. In fact, they’ve been around since 2005 for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes.1
Over the years, ongoing improvements, research and the introduction of additional versions have refined these drugs. Today, this class of medication is prescribed for its benefits toward diabetes management and weight loss.
The advancement of GLP-1 medications is especially important for people with Type 2 diabetes and may help turn the tide on one of the world’s most prevalent chronic conditions. That’s because reaching and maintaining a healthy body weight can make diabetes more manageable.2
With all the buzz around GLP-1 medicines’ ability to promote weight loss, it can be easy to think of them as miracle drugs — a one-and-done solution for both weight and diabetes management.
But medication is just part of the equation. Exercise, diet and continuous glucose monitoring can also support overall health by establishing good habits for the long term.
Technology such as our world-leading3 FreeStyle Libre CGM systems provide a window into your body, letting you see the real-time changes in glucose levels that can help you stick to the right plan.
Think of CGM systems like your car’s speedometer: You can try driving the speed limit without it, but you’ll be a lot more successful if you know exactly how fast you’re going.
Our analysis 4 of U.S. retail pharmacy data, which was released in September, shows a number of people with diabetes in the U.S. are adopting this “better together” approach.
- More than 40% of people with diabetes in the U.S. using Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre systems are also using GLP-1 therapy, as of June 2023.
- People with diabetes have better adherence — i.e., wear their sensors more days — when using FreeStyle Libre systems in combination with GLP-1 therapy as compared to using FreeStyle Libre systems alone.
- Conversely, people using FreeStyle Libre systems adhere to their GLP-1 therapy longer than those on the medicine alone.
And our latest data5 shows that people with Type 2 diabetes who were using GLP-1 medicines, yet still had an HbA1C level above 8 percent, saw a significant improvement in their HbA1C after adding FreeStyle Libre technology. In fact, adding FreeStyle Libre technology helped these patients improve their HbA1C more than GLP-1 therapy alone.
The complementary use of GCM and GLP-1 medications is also endorsed by healthcare professionals such as Dr. Eden Miller, CEO of Diabetes and Obesity Care in Bend, OR.
“The evidence for GLP-1 therapy and its effectiveness in disease intervention is vast, but it is not being used alone,” Miller said. “In my clinical practice, I incorporate continuous glucose monitoring systems to work in concert with these therapies.
“This tool provides real-time information on how lifestyle choices such as food, activity, medication and stress can impact a patient’s body. We both benefit from this data, and it makes it easier for a patient to stay engaged with these changes in the short- and long-term.”
As a diverse healthcare company, we’re exploring other ways to support people wanting to manage their weight and sugar levels. In the end, we are committed to empowering your health journey with accessible technologies that provide personalized insight into your body.
1 Michael Nauk, Daniel R Quast, Jakob Wefers, Juris J Meier. GLP-1 receptor agonists in the treatment of type 2 diabetes – state-of-the-art. Molecular Metabolism. April 2021.
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
3 Data based on the number of users worldwide for FreeStyle Libre family of personal CGMs compared to the number of users for other leading personal CGM brands and based on CGM sales dollars compared to other leading personal CGM brands.
4 Abbott FreeStyle Libre/GLP-1 Analysis
5 Benefits of Using FreeStyle Libre With GLP-1 Therapy
This story was originally published on Oct. 30, 2023, and updated on Nov. 15, 2023.