4 April 2015

Abbott brings Freestyle Libre Pro System for glucose monitoring to India

The prevalence of type II diabetes is increasing in young adults in Asia, according to research from the Asia Diabetes Foundation (ADF). The ADF has funded research* together with Merck showing that 18% of the people recruited into its Joint Asia Diabetes Evaluation (JADE) study from nine Asian countries and territories were under the age of 40 when they were diagnosed with diabetes, a condition called young-onset diabetes.

While Merck offers a drug called Janumet XR to address 
type II diabetes, Abbott is tackling the treatment of the disease with a wearable that offers doctors more insights into patients' blood glucose levels over the long term.

Source: Abbott website. The FreeStyle Libre System at work. The FreeStyle Libre Pro System is designed to be used by healthcare professionals, rather than by patients themselves.

"India now carries 20% of the global burden of diabetes," said Robert Ford, Senior VP, Diabetes Care, Abbott. "There is an immense need for people in India to better manage their diabetes, enabling them to live healthier lives. Abbott's FreeStyle Libre Pro System is designed to empower doctors in India to help their patients through rich data and actionable insights."

The FreeStyle Libre Pro Flash Glucose Monitoring System consists of a small, round sensor—slightly larger than a 10 rupee coin (the size of a US quarter). A healthcare professional applies the sensor on the back of the patient's upper arm. The sensor is held in place with a self-adhesive pad and remains on the back of the arm for up to 14 days, requiring no patient interaction.

When applied to the skin, the sensor continuously measures glucose in interstitial fluid through a small (5mm long, 0.4mm wide) filament that is inserted just under the skin. It records glucose levels every 15 minutes, capturing up to 1,340 glucose results over 14 days, giving doctors comprehensive data for a complete glycemic profile of their patients. After 14 days, the person returns to the doctor's office, where the doctor uses a FreeStyle Libre Pro reader device to download the glucose results that are stored in the sensor in as quickly as five seconds.

"Diabetes is already at epidemic proportions and there is an urgent need to manage it better," said Dr V Mohan, Director and Chief of Diabetes Research at Madras Diabetes Research Foundation. "Current diabetes monitoring tools are limiting for doctors because they don't reveal a complete picture of the glucose variability that a person goes through during a day. The revolutionary flash glucose monitoring system will be very useful for doctors in getting complete glucose profiles of their patients. This will help us in our clinical decision making as well as in personalising treatment plans for better outcomes."

"Current systems for continuous measurement of glucose are cumbersome and require regular finger-pricking to ensure they are calibrated correctly for accuracy," said Jared Watkin, Divisional VP, Technical Operations, Diabetes Care, Abbott. "Based on insights from our customers, the focus for our design team has been to innovate for these challenges, while also providing affordability. We're proud that FreeStyle Libre Pro System achieves that for people with diabetes."

Abbott's FreeStyle Libre Pro system will be available to doctors in coming weeks in six Indian cities including Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Pune and Trivandrum.

According to the International Diabetes Federation, India today has a diabetes population of 65.1 million compared to 50.8 million in 2010**. A recent survey conducted by the Association of Physicians of India (API) and sponsored by Abbott*** showed that 90% of people surveyed with uncontrolled diabetes in India, defined as HbA1c levels higher than 7%, continue to believe that they have control over their glucose levels, despite facts suggesting otherwise. 

The Diabetic Society of Singapore has estimated that over 400,000 people or 11.3% of the population suffer from diabetes, while Singapore's Khoo Teck Puat Hospital has found that two-thirds of its diabetes patients under 30 have the type II form. 

*Metabolic profiles and treatment gaps in young-onset type 2 diabetes in Asia (the JADE programme): a cross-sectional study of a prospective cohort, The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, e-publication July 2014, print publication December 2014.

***The Abbott Sugar Survey, February 2015