A new study published in US Endocrinology found Abbott’s continuous glucose monitoring system, the FreeStyle Libre, demonstrated significant cost savings for diabetic care compared to traditional fingerstick testing.
Abbott’s system uses flash continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) through a sensor placed to the back of the upper arm, and lasts for up to 14 days. The device automatically collects data throughout the day and wirelessly transfers it to a handheld reader or smartphone.
The study's two authors noted that the review was funded by Abbott, and that one author is an employee and shareholder of the company.
Researchers found that the cost of care for individuals with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes who used the FreeStyle Libre 14-day system was 61% and 63% less than those who use the fingerstick method.
The study, which used a base of eight tests per day, found the finger prick standard of care cost $4,380 per year. Whereas, for Type 1 and Type 2 patients who used the FreeStyle Libre 14-day system, it cost $1,712 and $1,603 respectively per year.
The FreeStyle Libre 14-day system is also estimated to save about 50% in average annual medical costs for people with severe hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), according to the study. For people with severe hypoglycemia, the study estimated an annual cost of $4,494 for those self-monitoring blood glucose (SMBG) and $2,317 for flash monitoring.
This type of glucose monitoring results in overall positive health outcomes, according to the study. The researchers found a 90% decrease in the need for SMBG, as well as decreases in hospital visits and ambulance use. People who use this type of monitoring reported improved satisfaction with their treatment compared to those who use SMBG.
HOW IT WAS DONE
Based on the American Diabetes Association (ADA) Standards of Care, people with diabetes that use SMBG techniques should test six or more times a day.
To determine diabetes management cost savings, researchers crunched the average cost of care numbers for a hypothetical cohort of 1,000 patients. Diabetes monitoring habits were based on the ADA standard and two other more lax practices that it reports are common in real life.
“The base case compared the annual cost per person for the flash monitoring system with the cost of routine SMBG at 8 tests/day, the mid-point of the range recommended by the ADA,” researchers for the report wrote. “Scenarios 1 and 2 use the same approach as the base case, except they use the lower and upper limits of the range in the ADA Standards of Care, [six] and 10 SMBG tests/day, respectively. Scenario 3 is based on the same approach as the base case, but with routine SMBG used at 3 tests/day.”
THE LARGER TREND
Roughly two in five Americans living with diabetes reported difficulties paying their medical bills, according to a recent study. These bills cost more than double what they would be in the absence of diabetes, according to the ADA.
“These new cost data published today in US Endocrinology reinforce how use of Abbott's FreeStyle Libre technology, which was designed with affordability in mind, can transform how both patients and health systems improve health outcomes more cost-effectively compared to fingerstick testing,” Dr. Mahmood Kazemi, divisional VP of global medical and scientific affairs and CMO at Abbott, said in a statement.
A number of organizations have created devices and solutions in an attempt to make treating diabetes easier. Last year, Abbott teamed up with Omada to integrate the data collected on the FreeStyle Libre 14-day system on its mobile platform. One study found that using AI for diabetic retinopathy screenings could save providers money. And WellDoc’s BlueStar continues to add diabetes-management tools to its platform.