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Abbott’s wearable glucose monitor to be available across England

FreeStyle Libre will be prescribed to those with T1 diabetes

FreeStyle Libre starter pack

Patients with type 1 diabetes across England will soon be able to access Abbott's FreeStyle Libre wearable glucose sensor, a device that was only previously offered to those living in certain areas of the country.

Following an investigation from the BMJ earlier this year, it was found that a quarter of local NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in England did not provide the technology for patients, mainly due to funding limitations.

Dubbed the ‘postcode lottery’, NHS England’s chief executive Simon Stevens says it will now direct all areas to make it more widely available.

By April next year, all type 1 diabetes patients (who qualifies in line with clinical guidelines) will have access to the tech on prescription, he says.

Simon Stevens said: “As the NHS prepares to put digital health and technology at the heart of our long term plan for the future, NHS England is taking important action so that regardless of where you live, if you’re a patient with Type 1 diabetes you can reap the benefits of this life improving technology.”

The wearable device is about the size of a £2 coin and is affixed to the user's arm, doing away with regular finger prick blood tests and allowing patients to better manage their condition by notifying them when sugar levels rise or fall, and allowing them to share the data with a healthcare professional.

An Abbott Spokesperson said: “We welcome NHS England’s announcement to increase access to Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre. Years of clinical and real world evidence show that when people use this technology, they have both short and long term benefits to their diabetes control.  When Abbott set out to develop FreeStyle Libre, cost—and therefore access—were barriers that we wanted to overcome. The result is a breakthrough technology that is now available for a fraction of the cost of other sensing devices. We’re grateful to the wider diabetes community for their continued support in our goal of making this technology available to those who need it.”

Partha Kar

NHS England's Partha Kar

Both the sensor, which needs to be changed every two weeks, and the separate reader device comes in at a cost of £57.95 each.

Dr Partha Kar, Associate National Clinical Director for Diabetes at NHS England has been an advocate of the technology,and has been instrumental in securing wider access.

He commented: “This is an exciting and welcome step forward as the aim is to have uniform prescribing policy across the NHS, irrespective of where someone with Type 1 diabetes lives. This will be based on previous national guidance issued- with the provision of updating it as further evidence accrues.”

The announcement comes just one month after Health Secretary Matt Hancock unveiled a nation-wide strategy to put technology at the forefront of the NHS, but has since been challenged by the Health Service Journal on budget challenges.

Simon Stevens added: “Increasingly the NHS is going to be offering patients this sort of technology to help them more easily manage their own long term health problem.

“In the NHS of the future, for many conditions you’re going to get NHS support direct from your smartphone or wearable device rather than having to trek to regular hospital outpatient appointments. Supporting people with modern tools to manage conditions such as Type 1 diabetes is about to become much more widespread. Innovations such as these also free up time and resources for the NHS as a whole.”

Meanwhile, in the US, the FDA approved the tech back in August this year, and earlier this month the regulatory body approved the accompanying mobile app.

Article by
Gemma Jones

15th November 2018

From: Regulatory

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