What happens when a health tech company climbs to the No. 1 spot1 of the continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) market and sees its customers increase to nearly 3.5 million users,2 all in a six-year period?
An innovative reputation is born.
That's where Abbott finds itself these days on the heels of its FreeStyle Libre 2 iOS app launch in the U.S. And it's a great spot to be in.
"Abbott has achieved tremendous success with FreeStyle Libre technology. And in many ways, we're just getting started," said Joel Goldsmith, senior director of digital platforms for Abbott's Diabetes Care business.
"We've made a commitment to transform ourselves from a sensor-based business to one more broadly focused on digital health, and we're already making a lot of progress."
To understand where Abbott is headed and its potential for future growth, you have to dive into the technology that sets the FreeStyle Libre portfolio apart from the other CGM systems on the market.
Get the details from Goldsmith on access and affordability, why you shouldn't overlook Abbott's FreeStyle Libre manufacturing process, and the future role of machine learning in managing diabetes.
What sets Abbott's CGM technology apart?
Goldsmith: We have the only factory-calibrated sensor enabling up to 14 consecutive days of wear.2 That, on its surface, is significant. But what people tend to overlook is what it enables. By making a device like FreeStyle Libre last longer,3 the cost per day goes down, and so a big part of our entire story has been about access and affordability.
Additionally, with our next-gen FreeStyle Libre 3 system* in Europe, you get a huge reduction in the on-body footprint of the sensor. It's 70% smaller,4 going from the size of a double-stacked quarter with FreeStyle Libre 2 to a double-stacked penny. The sensor was already small. Now you totally forget you're wearing it.
What's at the root of FreeStyle Libre's access and affordability?
Access and affordability was a guiding design principle for the FreeStyle Libre technology from Day One. So, the FreeStyle Libre portfolio has always been the most affordable CGM.5 But to make it accessible broadly, we did two things: First, we conducted randomized controlled studies6, 7 that yielded very positive results. And then we confirmed those results through real-world evidence.2 This has enabled us to extend partial- or full-reimbursement for the FreeStyle Libre portfolio in nearly 40 countries, and that number continues to grow.
Name an important, but often overlooked aspect of Abbott's CGM technology.
The manufacturing process and capacity. None of this is possible without it.
To produce tens of millions of sensors a year with the consistency that we do and make them available in nearly 60 countries around the world, people take that for granted. It's assumed and expected. But it's really difficult, and it's a source of competitive differentiation for us.
Looking ahead five to 10 years, where do you see CGM technology going?
I think we're going to see three trends: 1) body-worn sensors being used for metabolic health monitoring by a broader population of people, including those who don't have diabetes; 2) the addition of glucose as a vital sign that is more regularly monitored and; 3) broad adoption of digital health tools, including advancements in machine learning, to improve the quality and access of care for people living with diabetes.
As the world becomes more oriented around preventive care, monitoring and understanding your physiological state will be increasingly important. And as a result, body-worn sensors will become much more mainstream than they are right now. They will be part of recurring self-monitoring and health and wellness.
For people with diabetes, machine learning will enable a broader set of clinicians to make more informed treatment decisions, which is critical as the number of people with diabetes is expected to climb 51% to 700 million people by 2045. To do this, you need really dense glucose data. And that's what our sensor is providing, and that's why today it's already being used by nearly 3.5 million people worldwide.2
Want to know more? Get additional details about Abbott's FreeStyle Libre system and the data that show how the CGM system is helping more people in more places.
*The FreeStyle Libre 3 system is not yet available in the U.S.
1Data on file, Abbott Diabetes Care. Data based on the number of users worldwide for the FreeStyle Libre system compared to the number of users for other leading personal-use, sensor-based glucose monitoring systems.
2Data on file, Abbott Diabetes Care.
3Compared to other CGMS available.
4Compared to other FreeStyle Libre systems; Data on file, Abbott Diabetes Care.
5Based on a comparison of list prices of the FreeStyle Libre portfolio versus competitor CGM systems. The actual cost to patients may or may not be lower than other CGM systems, depending on the amount covered by insurance, if any.
6ClinicalTrials.Gov, "An Evaluation of Novel Glucose Sensing Technology on Hypoglycemia in Type 1 Diabetes (IMPACT)," April 10, 2017. https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02232698
7Aleppo et al. "REPLACE-BG: A Randomized Trial Comparing Continuous Glucose Monitoring With and Without Routine Blood Glucose Monitoring in Adults With Well-Controlled Type 1 Diabetes," Diabetes Care, April 2017. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28209654/