Using a FreeStyle Libre can lead to fewer hypos and improved HbA1c levels, found a recent study reviewing the current evidence on the device.
In addition, user satisfaction is high, and the device’s accuracy is similar to continuous glucose monitors (CGMs).
The researchers hope that these findings will help doctors and health authorities to make informed decisions for prescribing and funding the device.
What is the FreeStyle Libre?
The FreeStyle Libre, from manufacturer Abbott, is the first flash glucose monitoring system of its kind.
The device, which is the size of a £2 coin, sits on the arm and measures glucose levels in the fluid surrounding cells as a proxy for blood glucose levels. The user ‘flashes’ their reader over the sensor to see a reading of their current glucose levels.
The device can be worn for 2 weeks, and does not require calibration. It is a treatment option designed to improve glucose control while reducing the need for painful finger-prick tests.
Why did they review current evidence?
The FreeStyle Libre was approved for prescription on the NHS in the UK in 2017, subject to local health authority approval.
The researchers decided to review the current evidence from clinical trials and other studies on the effectiveness of the FreeStyle Libre in people with type 1 (and in some cases, type 2) diabetes, to understand how the device could be used in diabetes care in the UK.
What did they find?
They found that the FreeStyle Libre was accurate and safe to use in adults and children, as well as during pregnancy. People were happy using the FreeStyle Libre as it was easy and painless to use, and allowed people to check their glucose levels more often.
Studies also found that using the device leads to less time in hypos and lower HbA1c, although the authors say that more studies are needed to understand the long-term impact on HbA1c.
Disadvantages included skin reactions from wearing the device and fewer benefits for those with hypo unawareness.
What does this mean for type 1?
These findings indicate that the FreeStyle Libre can be an effective treatment option for people with type 1 diabetes. Different diabetes tech may suit different people however, and JDRF believes people should have access to the best tech for them.
In their paper, the authors say:
“As a more affordable option for CGM data, we support access to this technology for all people with diabetes who are treated with intensive insulin therapy.”