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Ongoing supply issue with FreeStyle Libre sensors

FreeStyle Libre sensor is position on the left tricep

In a seemingly ongoing supply issue with FreeStyle Libre sensors, people with type 1 diabetes are struggling to get hold of replacement sensors for the blood glucose monitor.

Pharmacy teams and members of the Facebook community have reported being unable to obtain the sensors needed for the device.

Abbott, the company behind the device, admitted the delay. In a statement, they said: “We are currently experiencing delays in fulfilling orders of the FreeStyle Libre sensors. The delay is two to three weeks from date of order.

“We are doing all we can to expedite shipments in an effort to minimise any interruptions and are sorry for the inconvenience this may cause. You will receive an e-mail with a tracking number when the product is dispatched. This is the same information that our customer service team will be able to provide.”

Speaking to Chemist and Drug magazine, Pete Horrocks from Knights Pharmacy said people were becoming frustrated.

He said: “Many of our customers have been transferred over to the new Libre sensor but with the recent ‘shipping’ issues, our pharmacy teams have had to coordinate with prescribers and diabetes nurses to arrange for alternative meters and blood testing strips for our patients. In many instances, pharmacy teams receive the brunt of patients’ frustrations.”

The device aims to make management of type 1 diabetes easier and more convenient. It reduces the number of finger-pricking blood glucose tests that a person with diabetes would have to carry out on a day-to-day basis. The sensor, which attaches to the arm for up to 14 days, tracks blood glucose trends and wirelessly communicates the data to a handheld device. The device is relatively easy to use, and many find it incredibly convenient. For example, a parent could scan their child’s blood glucose level at night without waking them up. This has led to the device being very sought after, and consequently relied upon.

As such, people have made their frustrations known on social media. Andy wrote in to the Diabetes.co.uk Facebook page to say “I can’t believe I’m having to finger prick again because Abbott the manufacturers of the FreeStyle Libre system still haven’t sorted their sensor manufacturing out!

“For a large medical company, that people have come to rely upon, not being able to sort out the manufacturing process to supply the demand is really poor!”

As of time of writing, 64% of respondents to a poll have said that they are experiencing issues with getting their hands on a sensor for their FreeStyle Libre.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) is recommending pharmacists refer people with diabetes back to their prescriber so alternative glucose monitoring methods can be adopted.

The FreeStyle Libre sensor was made available on the NHS in 2017. In April last year, NHS England pledged to make funds available so that anyone with type 1 diabetes who wanted a device, could have one.

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