Freestyle Libre manufacturers, Abbott, have increased production of their popular Flash Glucose Monitor to meet increased demand.
Libre has recently become available on the NHS, in the UK, to patients who are eligible under a strict list of criteria. However, many people with diabetes self-fund the device and several have complained about the lack of availability in the run up to summer.
Abbott have responded with plans to ramp up manufacturing of Libre by three to five times in the next few years, aiming to reach millions more patients worldwide.
Abbott executives said the increase in manufacturing capacity will begin in the second half of this year and will make room for the expected U.S. launch of the FreeStyle Libre 2. This next-generation device has been approved in Europe.
Jared Watkin, Abbott’s senior vice president for Diabetes Care, said in an interview that scale is a “huge part” of the company’s strategy for its glucose monitors. “When you’re making disposable diagnostic products, the more you can make, the lower the cost you can produce them at.”
While the Libre 2 has more features, including alarms for when blood sugar levels swing too low or high, Abbott plans to keep the U.S. price the same as its predecessor, Watkin said.
Abbott started in diabetes care as a maker of inexpensive test strips and glucose meters. More recently, the company has sought to expand access to its continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) devices.
“It’s not good enough to bring this to a small, wealthy population. Diabetes is such a global epidemic that you need to bring products that can really make a dent in that,” Watkin said.