The Freestyle Libre 3 is the newest iteration of Abbott’s continuous glucose monitor. What’s the difference between the newest Freestyle Libre and the Freestyle Libre 2? Skin Grip is here to investigate and break down the differences that make the Freestyle Libre 3 stand out.
What is the Freestyle Libre?
The Freestyle Libre is a continuous glucose monitor or CGM. This device is usually placed in the upper arm. It measures the user’s blood glucose level each minute and displays the reading on the user’s smartphone. In addition, the device stores a blood glucose reading every 15 minutes, so users can use the history to track trends in blood sugar throughout the day. Users can also use their app to set alarms for high and low blood sugars.
What’s new about the Freestyle Libre 3?
In short, not too much, or not enough that you need to rush out and replace your Freestyle 2 right away. The newest Freestyle Libre is slightly more accurate than the former version, bumping down its Mean Absolute Relative Difference by about 2%. (The Mean Absolute Relative Difference measures a potential difference in the blood sugar measured by the device and what a user’s blood sugar actually is.) Just like the Freestyle Libre 2, the device is approved for users ages 4 and up. It is also approved for patients with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, so nobody is excluded.
One of the nice new features of the Freestyle Libre 3 is that the sensor is significantly smaller and easier to apply. If you find that sensors bother your skin, then the smaller Freestyle Libre 3 might reduce the irritation. Alternatively, you can use skin barrier products like Skin Tac wipes to prevent the sensor from irritating the skin.
The smaller, easier-to-apply sensors have been billed as a big win for users of the Freestyle Libre, but we will be interested to find out how well these sensors stay on the arm. Regardless, of improvements or problems, the safe solution is to secure the CGM with a Freestyle Libre sensor patch.
What are the limitations of the Freestyle Libre?
Unfortunately, the Freestyle Libre 3, like previous versions, is not compatible with an insulin pump. Though the device has technology that may make these devices compatible with a pump in the future, they are not currently approved for that use.
Another limitation of the Freestyle Libre is that it must be reapplied every 14 days. Unlike an implantable device, like the Eversense, the Freestyle Libre remains on the outside of the body and requires regular replacement. This makes the diabetic device slightly more vulnerable, though a Freestyle Libre sensor adhesive can keep it secured to the arm and protected with a waterproof barrier.
What about cost?
The new Freestyle Libre 3 will be offered at the same price as the original Freestyle Libre and Freestyle Libre 2. Though the exact cost of the device depends heavily on how much is covered by insurance, many patients pay between $0-60 per month. Some users may even be able to receive a free trial sensor to determine whether the Freestyle Libre system is right for them.
How do I get the newest Freestyle Libre 3?
Like all CGM systems, users who are interested need a prescription from their healthcare provider (likely your endocrinologist). Once you have a prescription, you can log onto the Freestyle Libre website and sign up for a free trial CGM system. Once approved, you can redeem a voucher at your local pharmacy to receive the system at no cost. The pharmacist, your provider, and the Freestyle Libre website can help you understand how to use your new device. This includes the sensor and the companion smartphone app that is necessary for using the Freestyle Libre device.
What can I do with the Freestyle Libre 3
The device itself will allow you to manage your blood glucose by monitoring it in real time. Additionally, the device will allow you to set alarms on the app for blood glucose highs and lows. This makes the device ideal for people who have difficulty controlling their blood glucose, whether they’re concerned about hypoglycemia or diabetic ketoacidosis. Lastly, you can view a record of all your blood glucose readings to review your history and blood glucose trends.
More broadly, Skin Grip believes that people with diabetic sensors can do just about anything. These devices and the real time updates they give help us live with peace of mind. Skin Grip’s overlay patches and tape for diabetic sensors increases that peace of mind by keeping sensors right where they’re supposed to be. That means you spend less time worrying about sensors and replacements and more time playing, working, and enjoying your life.