WRITTEN BY: T’ara Smith
Abbott FreeStyle Libre announced on Friday, September 13, 2019, it received public reimbursement in Canada’s two largest provinces, Ontario and Quebec, for its FreeStyle Libre System. The news makes FreeStyle Libre the first sensor-based glucose monitoring system to be listed by any provincial health plan in Canada. Insulin users in Ontario and insulin users in Quebec who are 18 years or older are eligible for reimbursement under these public programs.
The FreeStyle Libre system can be worn on the back of the upper arm for up to 14 days. With the handheld reader or a smartphone, users can conduct a one-second scan to get real-time data about their blood glucose levels.
“Healthcare professionals and patients tell us that the FreeStyle Libre system is life-changing. These reimbursement listings are important for the many Ontario and Quebec residents who rely on provincial health plans to ensure they have access to this breakthrough technology,” said Marie-Flore Nabor, general manager of Abbott’s diabetes care business in Canada. “Abbott will continue to work with other provincial and territorial governments to make the FreeStyle Libre system more widely available to all Canadians living with diabetes.”
Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre system was approved for sale in Canada in 2017 and in 2018, the Diabetes Canada Clinical Practice Guidelines recommended technology like the device as an essential tool to help people with diabetes improve management to prevent longterm complications.
Canadian residents see the FreeStyle Libre reimbursement news as a sign of relief and the removal of major a barrier to diabetes care. “For me, I know the only possible way to properly control my diabetes is to check my glucose levels multiple times a day, and the FreeStyle Libre system lets me do that in a quick and simple way,” said Montreal resident Anne Pertus, who was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2016. “Knowing that the FreeStyle Libre system will be covered by the province is a huge relief for me. My husband is retiring next year and we will no longer have private insurance, so this coverage is critical for me to continue to see the benefits of sensor-based glucose monitoring.”
More than 3 million Canadians live with diabetes and in Ontario, the proportion who reported being diagnosed with diabetes was higher than the national average. Healthcare professionals in Canada view say the FreeStyle Libre removes ambiguity about their blood glucose management. “It’s amazing to see how people living with diabetes who use FreeStyle Libre become more engaged in their care – they are seeing their patterns and are coming to me directly with solutions for managing their glucose levels, completely unprompted,” said Ken Burns, a certified diabetes educator and pharmacist at the Centre for Complex Care at Health Sciences North/Horizon Santé-Nord in Sudbury, Ontario. “The information my patients are receiving from FreeStyle Libre removes much of the guesswork about what glucose levels are doing that many people living with diabetes are accustomed to, which is truly transformative care.