Abbott launched its FreeStyle Libre, the first continuous glucose monitoring system that doesn't require any fingerstick tests to calibrate, earlier this month.
Most continuous glucose monitors need to be calibrated twice per day to stay accurate. That requires patients to prick their finger and draw blood. FreeStyle Libre eliminates the need for that.
Patients insert the quarter-size sensor into the skin on the back of their upper arms, where it can stay for up to 10 days. To see their blood sugar level, they wave a handheld device over the sensor.
Abbott is aggressively pricing and marketing FreeStyle Libre, including offering a free reader and one free sensor to some users of rival Dexcom's devices. Abbott is capitalizing on its time as the only continuous glucose monitoring system on the market that doesn't require finger pricks, probably because it may not last long.
Dexcom submitted its latest G6 sensor for FDA approval in November. The original application included calibration, but Dexcom is in talks with the agency to approve a version that wouldn't require any.
The sensor would send updates to a handheld reader, as well as an iOS and Android app that's already used with current sensors. Dexcom expects to introduce a G6 sensor that wouldn't require fingerpricks by the end of 2018.
In the meantime, FreeStyle Libre may actually draw more patients to the market rather than simply cannibalizing Dexcom's share, said BMO Capital Markets analyst Joanne Wuensch.
Most patients who use continuous glucose monitors are Type 1 diabetics, who typically need to monitor their blood sugar more closely. Simplifying the method of testing and offering sensors at a lower price could convince Type 2 diabetics to try them as well.