Monitoring Blood Sugar Without a Drop of Blood

Freestyle Libre Flash Glucose Monitoring

Image courtesy of Abbott Diabetes Care

Spilling blood is never a good thing. But for people living with diabetes, pricking a finger and getting a drop of blood is an all-too-frequent ritual. Now, that ritual may start to fade. Late on Wednesday, FDA approved the first system for monitoring blood sugar levels without the need for routine finger sticks.

The FreeStyle Libre Flash Glucose Monitoring System

This new system from Abbott Diabetes Care is the FreeStyle Libre Flash Glucose Monitoring System. And it completely eliminates the need for taking a drop of blood to monitor blood sugar.

Last year, FDA approved a professional version of this system for doctors monitoring a patient’s blood glucose. But this system is for patients to monitor their own leves.

It’s a continuous monitoring system. So it gives a more complete picture of how blood sugar levels are changing over time. And randomized, controlled studies have shown better control results from continuous monitoring compared to older technology.

Continuous monitoring systems have been around since 1999. However those older systems still require a drop of blood for calibration.

It’s All About the Blood

Most people are repelled by blood. Some people faint at the sight of it. Making people with diabetes take a drop of blood is a little insult that repeats itself over and over again. Take away the blood and people check their levels more often. More engagement is a key factor in the better control that results from continuous monitoring.

This has been a long slog. It’s tough to replace entrenched technologies. Health plans have been slow to pay for continuous monitoring because it’s not their blood that’s being spilled. But the pressure to respect their plan members on this point will only grow.

Continuous monitoring for blood sugar – without the blood – is poised to grow.

Click here, here, and here for more on this approval. For more on continuous monitoring, click here.

Blood, photograph © Mate Marschalko / flickr

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September 29, 2017