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Abbott Freestyle Libre – flashy glucose monitor

Here is the background – I’m on an insulin pump, a medtronic one.  I occasionally use the Enlight continuous glucose monitors (CGM) that integrates with the pump – however they cost about £50 each and not generally available on the NHS.

I use the sensors when I’m out on a long run or testing the settings on my insulin pump.  Technically they should only last 6 days but I’ve found putting it on the upper arm makes it more reliable and I’ve eeked out over 3 weeks, much to the disgust of my diabetic nurse – who in summary told me that it was licensed for use there, I could get an infection and my arm might fall off (the latter a bit poetic!).

I’m on the last of these sensors and thinking should I try out the Dexcom system which is reputedly more accurate / reliable and online users report 1 month use per sensor.  Similar cost.  Then Abbott brought out this new system called the Libre.

A local Type 1 diabetic group in Lancaster had a rep from Abbott along to demo the units and I was keen to check it out – perhaps this was an alternative.


Whats the fuss?  well Abbott are selling this as a replacement for finger prick testing.  Yet it takes a reading every minute (CGM is 5 mins).  Its not quite live as a CGM as you have to wave the reader past the sensor to download the most recent data.

I’ve just fitted the sensor so need a bit of time to evalute it.  But here are my thoughts so far.


  1. Its cheaper to run than a CGM although with the ability to extend life of Enlites its about the same.
  2. You don’t need to calibrate the device
  3. You can ditch the finger pricking kit – almost as it doesn’t cover driving but one thought is just leave finger pricking kit in car.
  4. From reports its more accurate than CGM
  5. The reader works as a finger prick meter but need the strips


  1. Its not testing BLOOD glucose so there is a lag against real time
  2. For some really odd reason the meter only stores the most recent 90 days worth of data.  I say odd because the cost of storage is so low for this amount of data – its just daft.  Suspect some data protection reason or something equally stupid.
  3. Another bit of kit to carry – ALTHOUGH in theory can ditch finger pricking kit.
  4. The reader has a USB port that is not covered – for me popping it in my pocket whilst running on a damp night it could easily get damaged.  Just a little rubber cap would have done nice.

Its worth stating particularly for those who have not used a CGM the inserting the sensor is almost pain free.  The sensor is not obtrusive and fair less likely to be knocked like the enlite.

Initial thoughts, its great – the cost is making it more more affordable to a lot more users and the initial outlay is considerably less than the CGM offering.

Yep I know its not a CGM – it doesn’t give live data but it does give the same data which would be used to review what is happening during the day.

Back in a few weeks with a bit more detailed report on how well it works.

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