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Libre part 2

Abbott Libre

I said I’d come back with a review on the Libre – this device measures my blood sugar level.. Must admit I’m struggling to be objective here, I’m slightly smitten by the device. And so do a whole load of other diabetics as they have pretty much sold out starter packs and not taking any more new registrations till the new year. Even if you do have a device they only let you order 2 sensors every 14 days. Facebook is awash with people grumbling about how difficult it is to get sensors / device.

Stating the facts

  • This device does not test blood sugar it tests your subcutaneous tissue (the same as a continuous glucose monitor) so there is a lag, for me it’s about 10 mins.
  • Each sensor lasts 14 days, not that I should compare with CGM’s but those sensors formally only last 6 days.
  • On that note its not live so you need to swipe the reader past the sensor.
  • Once the sensor has expired, not for love or money will you restart it – numerous people have tried and failed.
  • You can’t use this device as a measurement for BG whilst driving. Personally I think this gives better information, knowing that I’m 5.5 and falling fast (albeit 10 mins out of date) is more valuable than know that 5.5 right now. I may consider getting something to eat prior to driving if I knew it was dropping fast.

Libre v CGM, the makers of Libre are at pains to let people know this is not a CGM, rather they see it as more of a replacement for finger pricking. Hogwash.. the most useful thing about CGM is which direction your BG is going and what it has been doing over the past 12 hours and the Libre can do this – OK you have to swipe the device over the sensor but for me it gives the same info and helps me make the same decisions.

It’s stupid I know but I do often find myself in the dark – be it running / sleeping / cycling. I love the way that the reader lights up as soon as you push the button, one swipe and you can see your graph. Yep I’ve even been known to do this whilst cycling at night and running. This compared to the CGM on my pump requires a couple of different button pushes and the screen is no where near as clear and easy to view (I’m also attached to it so its often not quite as handy).

Money money.. personally I think the biggest game changer is for those on MDI (multiple daily injections). On MDI if you wanted to try out a CGM you would be looking at upwards of £1000 start up costs – forget funding not going to happen unless pregnent or big problems with hypos. On Libre its £134 for a start up pack that includes 2 sensors and a reader. Sensors after that are £48.

Another silly thing but I have a nightmare getting deliveries from Medtronic, needless to say they want a signature yet also reluctant to send to my work place. Not a problem for the libre sensors, I can pay on my personal debit card registered to my home and get delivered to the office.

OK what’s not so good..

  • Website is a bit naff, considering how much they are making they could have spent a few more pennies on someone who knew what they were doing. Either that or they have been taken for a ride.
  • It broke – yep I sing all its praises but it did bust after 4 days. I spent 20 mins on the phone chatting to some fella from South Africa asking me 4 times for my home address and what I got up to. Nice but really I do have a job – a new one is in the post. Hopefully won’t be a reoccurring problem.
  • 90 days, that is how much data the reader stores and how much you can download. At the recent evening where I first saw this device it was muted that it maybe something to do with memory. You can buy a 4gb micro SD card on Amazon for £3, I downloaded one day’s worth of data at it was about 15kb. A quick bit of maths would tell you that £3 micro SD card could store 756 YEARS of data – the data for all of my life x10 (maybe less who knows). I really hope that it’s not to do with storage. I suspect it’s big brother not wanting to have this data laying around – personally I’d like to be the one making that decision. Not rocket science to encrypt it or for the user to set an expiry date.


  • Waste, once you insert the sensor there is a whole load of plastic you need to get rid of. As one part also includes a retracted insertion needle it should go in a sharps bin. Most diabetics won’t have a large enough bin to put this in – fortunately I do, but it will start filling up quickly.
  • Money money.. its not funded by the NHS. I hope it will be, I now only use test strips for driving and I’m pretty sure I and many other diabetics have better control. Be great to see it funded, there are many people who really will benefit from this and just can’t afford it. £1200 per year!! This on top of the parking fees at the hospital – it’s just too much. No really sensors costs are too much.

It’s neither a good or bad. The software is functional (aside from the annoying 90 day thing) – but a disadvantage is that it’s a lot more complicated to compare it with what the insulin pump is doing. One project I’m interested to see where it goes is tidepool – be great to import Heart Rate / Insulin pump / Libre data / even speed / ascent on to the same graph. Hopefully this is not just a bunch of people with ideas and no wherewithal on how to make it happen. fingers crossed.

Would I recommend it – yes.

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