A Diabetes Monitor That Spares the Fingers
For the past year and a half I’ve been buying a medical device from Italy that has improved my life immeasurably. It wasn’t easy: I roped in a good friend who had moved to Milan to buy the device and ship it to me because it wasn’t yet available in the States. And it was expensive: over $1,600 a year.
But my black-market purchase helps me manage my Type 1 diabetes without the need to draw blood from my callused fingers 10-plus times a day to track my glucose level, a ritual that had been an unpleasant part of my life for decades.
The FreeStyle Libre, made by Abbott, is a flash glucose sensor that allows people with diabetes to view our blood sugar every minute of the day without a single finger prick. While there are similar devices on the market — called continuous glucose monitors, or CGMs — the Libre is the least invasive one I’ve seen. It takes readings from a sensor under the skin but doesn’t require finger sticks for calibration, and is about the size of a quarter and as thick as two. And it’s helping me keep my diabetes under better control.
There have been some challenges: The Milanese UPS store wanted a letter detailing exactly what was in the box. My credit card’s fraud department called (“Yes, the charge for $365 from Milan is mine”).
So I was thrilled to learn that the Food and Drug Administration recently approved the sale of the Libre in the United States, a decision that may help some of the 29 million Americans with diabetes.
The Libre I buy from Italy has a self-adhesive, waterproof white sensor that sticks to my arm for 14 days. It to Continue reading