Abbott's FreeStyle Libre – a flash glucose monitor that allows diabetes patients to track their blood sugar without pricking – will be reimbursed by the NHS from 1 November, subject to local health economy approval.
The device's starter pack previously cost around £170, with readers for the sensors costing as much as £60, but will now be available for reimbursement via the NHS across England and Wales, NHS Scotland and Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland for people with type 1 and 2 diabetes who are intensively-using insulin.
The system uses a sensor the size of a £2 coin, worn on the back of the upper arm, to automatically read glucose levels. Clinical studies and real-world evidence have suggested that FreeStyle Libre users scan their glucose levels an average of at least 15 times per day, and that these higher rates of self-monitoring are strongly associated with improved glucose measures.
Chris Askew, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said: “Today’s announcement is fantastic news: Not since the transition from urine testing to finger-prick testing has there been such potential to transform the lives of people living with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes through technology.
“Flash glucose monitoring can free people living with diabetes from the pain and rigour of frequent finger-prick testing, and puts them in greater control of their condition. In doing so, it has the potential to help prevent a host of devastating long-term complications. Today’s decision is testament to the commitment of campaigners, clinicians and policy makers to making this technology available."
He added: “The challenge now will be that everyone who could benefit from this technology is able to access it where they live; Diabetes UK will be looking to local decision makers to ensure people living with diabetes get proper access to this potentially life-changing technology.”