Jan 4 (Reuters) - Abbott Laboratories said on Thursday its newly launched glucose monitoring device would be covered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, expanding its usage to millions of diabetes patients in the United States.
The device, FreeStyle Libre Flash, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in September. It allows diabetes patients to continuously track blood sugar levels without having to prick their fingers.
Abbott's device is the second continuous glucose monitoring system after DexCom Inc's G5 Mobile to be covered by the federal agency.
DexCom's device is similar to Abbott's, but requires fingertip testing about two to four times a day for optimal accuracy.
Abbott's device has a retail price of $70 for a reader and $36 per sensor, which lasts for 10 days.
"(This) cost is much less than other CGM systems that are available commercially," said Jared Watkin, senior vice president of Abbott's Diabetes Care unit.
Watkin added that the Medicare pricing would be different as it is based on certain reimbursement codes.
CMS rolled out deep cuts to reimbursement rates for certain laboratory and diagnostic tests under Medicare in November, a move that could save the government about $670 million in Medicare payments in 2018.
The reimbursement rates for the CGM system under the existing codes are $3,000 for a year, of which the federal agency pays $2,400 and the rest is paid out of pocket by the patients, Watkin said. "Those codes can change," he added. (Reporting by Divya Grover in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)