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Glucose monitoring tech to be available on prescription across UK

Finger-prick testing for blood sugar levels could become obsolete, say experts

Adrian O'Dowd

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

People with diabetes could soon be managing their condition without the need of daily finger-prick testing, due to the approval of new flash glucose monitoring technology available on the NHS.

The NHS Business Services Authority has today approved the listing of the FreeStyle Libre system, used in the management of diabetes, on the NHS drug tariff. It has been available privately in the UK since last year.

The system, produced by healthcare company Abbott, works by a person wearing a sensor approximately the size of a £2 coin attached to the back of their upper arm for up to 14 days which automatically reads their glucose levels.

It eliminates the need for routine finger-pricks and user calibration and subject to local health economy approval, the system will be available for reimbursement via the NHS across the UK from November.

The company said its system was designed to change how people with diabetes measured their glucose levels and ultimately help them achieve better health outcomes.

Trials of the system by more than 50,000 users had shown people using it scanned their glucose levels an average of at least 15 times per day using the system’s reader or their smartphone via an app.

With the data gathered from the system, people should have a better understanding of their glucose levels through the Ambulatory Glucose Profile (AGP), a chart generated by the system that provides a visual snapshot of glucose levels, trends and patterns over time.

It is anticipated that this will provide doctors with deeper insights to help make more informed treatment decisions.

Neil Harris, general manager of Abbott's UK diabetes care business, said: “The FreeStyle Libre system has been shown to offer life-changing improvements for people with diabetes. We are delighted with the health service’s decision, and look forward to partnering with them to provide people with diabetes with our innovative technology to help manage their condition.

“We are in the process of implementing a multi-channel education and support programme for both patients and clinicians to ensure that the community is able to benefit from this reimbursement decision in the most effective possible way.”

Diabetes UK welcomed the announcement saying this was “life-changing”.

Chris Askew, the charity’s chief executive, said: “Today’s announcement is fantastic news. Not since the transition from urine testing to finger-prick testing has there been such potential to transform the lives of people living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes through technology.

“Flash glucose monitoring can free people living with diabetes from the pain and rigour of frequent finger-prick testing, and puts them in greater control of their condition. In doing so, it has the potential to help prevent a host of devastating long-term complications. Today’s decision is testament to the commitment of campaigners, clinicians and policy makers to making this technology available.

“The challenge now will be that everyone who could benefit from this technology is able to access it where they live. Diabetes UK will be looking to local decision makers to ensure people living with diabetes get proper access to this potentially life-changing technology.”

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