Healthcare-major Abbott has brought out a do-it-yourself version of its continuous glucose-monitoring device into India, ahead of schedule, a decision prompted by the pandemic.
The FreeStyle Libre System was originally scheduled for April 2021, but with people, worried with coronavirus infection, making fewer visits to the doctor, Abbott “accelerated” the roll-out this product, Kalyan Sattaru, General Manager with Abbott’s diabetes care segment told BusinessLine.
The product includes a coin-size sensor that is fixed onto the upper-arm and a reader, that helps the person monitor their sugar levels continuously and share with a doctor.
But can the benefit of being aware of the dangerous dip in sugar levels, particularly at night or wee hours of the morning, be blunted by the price of the device?
The reader is a one-time cost to the consumer at ₹5,500 and the sensor is a recurring cost of ₹5,000, possibly every three months. The sensor gives continuous readings for 14 days and analytics that cover a three-month period, mapping the sugar levels against diet, exercise etc.
Sattaru explains that the product would be helpful for those with Type 1 diabetes, for instance, where parents are able to monitor sugar levels of their children when they play or sleep. The device can be used on young children above the age of four years, in women with gestational diabetes (during pregnancy) and in those with Type II diabetes, keen on keeping their diabetes under control. This is of particular importance during the pandemic, given the heightened risk for people with diabetes. India is home to the second largest number of people with diabetes in the world, after China.
The FreeStyle Libre sensor measures glucose every minute in interstitial fluid through a small (5.5mm long) filament inserted just under the skin and held in place with a small adhesive pad, the company explained. A quick scan of the sensor with a reader provides a real-time glucose reading on demand and a complete picture of a person’s glucose levels, without painful, routine finger-pricks or daily calibration, it added.
The pandemic has seen consumers and doctors becoming more open to digital options like tele-consultations and wearable technologies that help keep a tab on one’s health. And Sattaru said, plans were afoot to develop a digital ecosystem around this product in the coming year.
The product was being imported from the United States and the company had not seen any disruptions in supplies in the last many months, due the pandemic, he said. The latest product will be available over-the-counter, online and at pharmacies, he added.
Abbott’s FS Libre Pro has been available in India since 2015. But this came at a lower price, just shy of ₹2,600, for the sensor and a technician would be needed to fix it to the arm. The reader, in this case, remained with the doctor. Both products would continue to exist in the market, Sattaru clarified.