Freestyle Libre - Flash Glucose Monitor

The time is finally here, that we can know what our blood glucose (bg) level is WITHOUTpricking our finger!! On September 27th, 2017 the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the approval of the Freestyle Libre flash glucose monitor for use in both type 1 and type 2 adults. Unlike other Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMS) available on the market, the Freestyle libre does NOT require any calibrations (or finger sticks). This could be a game changer in the diabetes world with how patients are managing their diabetes.

What is a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM)?

  • CGMS continuously monitor bg levels throughout the day and pick up levels every few minutes
  • A CGM consists of three parts:
    • The sensor, which is worn on the body and has a small wire that goes under your skin to read bg levels
    • The transmitter, which sends the signal from the sensor to the receiver
    • The receiver, which displays the current glucose value, a trend line (which shows glucose readings over past several hours,) and the trend arrow
  • Even if you are checking bg levels 2-4+ times a day, this only provides us a “snapshot” of what your levels are at that time. It does not tell you how bg levels are trending between those finger sticks or when high or low levels are occurring
  • Not only does a CGM measure your current bg reading, but arrows will indicate if your bg is increasing or decreasing and the rate of change.

What are the benefits of CGM therapy?

  • Since CGMs provide bg readings every few minutes, it provides an accurate picture of patterns and trends throughout the day, weeks and months.
  • CGMS can be such a useful tool for helping to improve HgbA1c levels, preventing bg fluctuations, reducing hypoglycemia, reducing the number of finger sticks daily, and improving quality of life.
  • It helps people with diabetes better understand what factors may be contributing to bg fluctuations such as; diet, physical activity, stress, infection or illness and can help individuals make treatment decisions based on these factors.
  • The CGM stores hundreds of bg values each day that can be downloaded from home or from a health care providers office. This makes it easier for your provider to adjust insulin and other diabetes medications.

How is the Freestyle Libre different than other CGMS?

  • It does NOT require any calibrations to work properly (other CGMs require you to check your blood glucose levels at least twice a day in order to run properly).
  • It can be worn for 10 days (other CGMS are approved for 6-7 days)
  • It is only approved to be worn in the arm
  • It is the smallest CGM on the market and is about the size of two small quarters
  • Unlike a traditional CGM the user must wave a handheld receiver over the sensor to get their current BG values
  • The Libre will not alarm you if blood glucose values are out of range or if you are experiencing both high or low bg values. Other CGMS will alert you if levels are out of range
  • It goes through a 12 hour warm up period, (meaning once you insert a sensor, you will not see bg levels for 12 hours).
  • Specific costs and insurance coverage is not available yet, but is expected to be significantly cheaper than other CGM options and comparable in cost to available BG meter and strips

What are the next steps?

  • The libre should be available in the United States in the next couple months at local pharmacies
  • You can visit the website for additional information and to sign up to be notified when it becomes available
  • You will need a script from your provider
  • We are still waiting on specific details to be announced…so STAY TUNED! We will be providing more details as they become available.

Read the FDA statement here:

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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