Abbott builds on needle-free diabetes testing with data sharing app

Abbott has launched a new smartphone app which allows users of its glucose meter to share readings with family or friends.

The new LibreLink app allow caregivers and parents to receive glucose readings on their Android smartphone whenever a loved one or child scans a FreeStyle Libre sensor.

Abbott is one of the main players in the multi-billion dollar glucose testing market, which is undergoing rapid digital development.

Patients with diabetes are recommended to test their blood glucose four times a day, creating a considerable burden on children and adolescents and older people in particular.

Among the most significant products to reach the market in recent times is Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre sensor, which does away with testing blood with lancets and test strips.

Instead the FreeStyle Libre is a digital sensor worn on the skin and measures interstitial glucose levels.  Launched in Europe in 2014, the device is seen as a huge advance on having to use fingerprick testing, and now the LibreLink app exploits the digital data generated by the device.

Abbott’s own survey of 600 parents across Europe confirmed that parents of children with diabetes often worry about their child’s blood glucose testing when they are away from them. More than half of parents worry their child will not test their glucose levels often enough when they are away, with 42% worry their child will have a potentially dangerous episode of hypoglycaemia or hyperglycaemia.

Developed in partnership with Newyu, the device allows caregivers to keep in touch with their loved ones and remotely monitor their glucose levels, and will send automated notifications when a loved one’s readings are too high or too low.

“The introduction of the FreeStyle Libre product was a tremendous breakthrough for those living with diabetes,” said Dr. Nandu Thalange, consultant paediatric endocrinologist, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

“The addition of LibreLinkUp is another step forward, particularly for those who need help managing their condition, such as children or the elderly. Being able to share your glucose readings with a loved one or healthcare professional, provides not only peace of mind but also the potential for better diabetes management.”

The LibreLinkUp app for Android smartphones will be available on Google Play in several European markets including Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.

In June the company presented positive results from the IMPACT clinical study, which showed the FreeStyle Libre system experienced 33% fewer hypoglycaemic events, 50% fewer serious events, and 91% fewer finger sticks than those using traditional self-monitoring methods.

A number of companies are also developing continuous glucose monitoring devices, and closed-loop systems which monitor levels and automatically administer insulin.

The company hasn’t yet gained US approval for FreeStyle Libre for consumer use, but recently submitted it for FDA review.

It received FDA approval for the FreeStyle Libre Pro system in September, which means healthcare professionals rather than patients manage the system.  Abbott says the system has a “significantly lower cost” compared to other professional continuous glucose monitoring systems.

The company says growing uptake of the device among consumers outside the US is helping to drive up medical device sales, which rose to 306 million in Q3, up 5.2% compared to the same period last year.

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