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The FreeStyle Libre 2 sensor sends the user’s glucose readings to their reader (right) or smartphone.


The sensor checks glucose levels every minute, even if it isn’t scanned, and summarises these readings in a graph on the user’s smartphone or reader, as well as calculating the time they spend in their blood sugar target range. When they do scan the sensor, users can see their current glucose level and trend projection. Apart from in exceptional circumstances, there is no need to finger prick for insulin dosing.


“Finger pricking has been a significant, but difficult and painful part of living with diabetes for a long time,” says Harris. “Without knowing what glucose levels are, it is much more difficult to make informed treatment decisions, which leads to suboptimal glycaemic control and poorer diabetes management.”


Live with wearables Abbott’s new FreeStyle Libre 2 device, for people living with diabetes, is a prime example. The device is a sensor-based technology with three optional alarms (low glucose, high glucose and signal loss) that can alert people to changes in their glucose levels in real time. As of March 2021, it is widely available on prescription in the UK for those with Type 1 diabetes, including children and young people aged four to 17.


“We understand that it is important that the product fi ts into people’s lives so they can keep on doing the things that are important to them.”


Neil Harris, Abbott


“The FreeStyle Libre 2 system consists of a small, round sensor worn on the back of the upper arm for up to 14 days, which measures glucose every minute in interstitial fluid through a small filament,” says Neil Harris, general manager of Abbott’s diabetes care business in the UK and Ireland. “This is inserted just under the skin and held in place with a small adhesive pad. Glucose readings are available with a one-second scan over the sensor using a compatible smartphone or reader.”


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This device, which has evolved from technology first developed in 2008, seeks to improve health outcomes for the 463 million people living with diabetes globally (both type 1 and type 2). Researchers at Abbott combined a decade of scientific research, feedback from thousands of potential users, and a wealth of chemical, technical, electrical and design expertise. While the product clearly meets medical device standards, the design owes as much to consumer wearables as it does to traditional disease management technologies. The developers’ main focal points were affordability, accessibility and discretion.


“The FreeStyle Libre 2 system is designed with the user in mind – the person who has to manage their diabetes every day of their life – whether they get the device on prescription from the NHS or buy directly from Abbott,” says Harris. “We understand that it is important that the product fits into people’s lives so they can keep on doing the things that are important to them.”


He adds that the data generated gives people a chance to make immediate decisions about how they manage their diabetes and the ability to share information with their healthcare team. In many areas of chronic condition management – and particularly since the start of the pandemic – medical innovations are making it easier for patients to connect remotely with doctors.


The device is just one in a raft of diabetes management devices to have hit the market in recent years. Insulet, Medtronic and Dexcom all have product launches planned for 2021, in what has been called a ‘watershed year’ for the market.


Consumer-inspired devices A similarly slick-looking device – albeit one that serves quite a different purpose – is Sky Medical


Medical Device Developments / www.nsmedicaldevices.com


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