Abbott's FreeStyle Lite Blood Glucose Monitoring Strip = Big Win
By Kelly Close
Abbott has just received approval for its blood-glucose monitoring strip for the Freestyle Lite. Beyond the fact that it’s easier to use, we're excited about it for several reasons. First, it fixes the GDH-PQQ problem from last year. While this didn't affect a significant number of patients (mainly those undergoing surgery or on dialysis), fixing the problem was important to reduce the risk of an inaccurate reading due to chemistry issues.
Second, Abbott's new strip has made tangible improvements from the old. The “Wow Factor” stems from its speed – the new strip makes testing much faster because it takes uncertainty away from wicking blood from the skin (how fast the strip takes up the blood). Abbott's old FreeStyle strips (which were the old TheraSense FreeStyle strips) were very good, but there was one thing that made them hard to use – it took longer, in our view, for the system to recognize the blood. Sometimes the strips would recognize the blood right away, and sometimes it would take a few extra seconds – add up those extra seconds for someone who tests 4-6 times a day, and the burden of testing becomes that much greater. For someone testing eight times a day, it's nearly two extra hours a year. (Please write firstname.lastname@example.org separately if you would like the background of Kelly's excel sheet on this.) Abbott’s new strip makes the entire process much faster, and the new system is as competitive as or better than virtually all other meters.
Third, as we understand it, although this strip is for the FreeStyle Lite, it is "backwards compatible" for all of Abbott's blood glucose meters. That means you can use the strips with all the old FreeStyle meters. Abbott does not have a "claim" for this, but users will find that strips can be used in that fashion. This is good news from our view, as it is always hard when new strips don’t work with existing systems. Good for the FDA, and good for Abbott on the FreeStyle Lite strip approval. It’s difficult to make testing marginally less of a burden, but this strip achieves that.
As a postscript, we note that at least some patients are testing less due to the use of continuous glucose monitoring, according to our Q&A panel. Are you testing less? If so we'd love to hear your perspective – please write email@example.com. --KC