The company behind a blood sugar monitor that has changed the lives of thousands of diabetics has been forced to apologise after supplies ran short.
Pharmacies have been turning patients away as deliveries of healthcare firm Abbott’s Freestyle Libre Sensor are delayed by two or three weeks.
Abbott has said it is working hard to fulfil all the orders, but gave no further explanation.
Diabetes.co.uk says almost 30,000 people in the UK use the device.
That amounts to about 1 in 10 of those with Type 1 diabetes.
The sensor was described as life-saving when it was first offered to NHS patients in 2017.
Before the device came along, they had to prick their fingers multiple times a day in order to test their blood glucose levels and work out how much insulin they need.
Now they are worried about their health and the reliability of the company’s supply chain.
They say their lives have become immeasurably harder because of the shortage.
The company has capitalised on the growing digital diabetes market as patients try to find new and easier ways to manage their healthcare.
However, this is not the first time the company has been unable to fulfil orders. This time last year, users struggled to get hold of devices and at the time, this was blamed on exceptional demand for the sensors.
‘Don’t underestimate the impact’
Sarah, 42, from Northampton, has had Type 1 diabetes since she was 14.
She doesn’t know when her local pharmacy will re-stock the sensors and said that Abbott shouldn’t “underestimate the impact this has”.
She warned that this delay is particularly worrying for parents with diabetic children, who use the sensors to check for dangerous highs and lows during the night.
What is the sensor?
A sticky patch sits on the upper arm holding a small needle, which continuously monitors blood sugar levels. It is linked to an app on a mobile phone, so the user always has a clear and precise picture of their glucose levels and can therefore inject the appropriate amount of insulin.
It is vital for Type 1 diabetics, whose bodies cannot produce their own insulin, that their blood sugars remain stable.
The advice from Natasha Marsland, senior clinical adviser at Diabetes UK, is for diabetics “to monitor blood glucose levels using their usual blood monitoring kits and test strips”.
She also says the charity is in touch with Abbott and has “expressed concern” about the situation.