New real-world data from Abbott (NYSE:ABT) demonstrates a potentially positive impact of GLP-1 drugs on diabetes technology.
GLP-1 receptor agonists, like Ozempic and Wegovy, provide therapy for diabetes and weight loss. This therapeutic class, a glucagon-like peptide 1, has proven to lead to improved blood sugar control and weight loss.
The drug class continues to grow in popularity and raise questions in medtech around just how large its impact could be.
Positive clinical results for GLP-1s led to recent negative market movement for a few of the biggest names in diabetes technology. Analysts reacted by cutting some forecasts on sales to reflect increased pressure thanks to the GLP-1 updates. Insulet and Embecta noted the drug’s impact in their most recent quarterly earnings. GLP-1s even had an impact on Intuitive Surgical and its surgical robot for bariatric procedures.
Despite the cautious reaction during the companies’ quarterly earnings, analysts have recently tempered concerns around the drug class and its impact on diabetes technology.
After hosting a call with a diabetes expert, BTIG analysts even went as far as to say GLP-1s shouldn’t have a massive impact on insulin pumps. What’s more, the drug class could even provide a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) boom.
Abbott now has data to back up this notion, too. The company sees GLP-1s as a potential modest accelerator for its FreeStyle Libre CGM product family.
What did Abbott uncover?
Abbott based its analysis on robust data capturing patient claims data for the entire U.S. retail pharmacy channel. That reflects pharmacy insurance coverage for patients covered by commercial insurance, Medicare Advantage plans, Managed Medicaid and Medicaid insurance plans. It also covers other payment types, including cash pay programs.
The company says the retail pharmacy channel covers approximately 280 million people. It represents approximately two-thirds of all FreeStyle Libre users in the U.S. today.
Takeaways from Abbott’s real-world data include that, as the use of GLP-1 therapy has increased, so, too, has the number of Libre users — rapidly, the company said.
The number of Libre users who also use GLP-1 therapy also grew over time, Abbott says. It observed that FreeStyle Libre sensor adherence came in higher for those who also use GLP-1 therapy. Similarly, GLP-1 adherence registers higher for those who use the CGM, Abbott noted.
Abbott said CGM is an accessible, affordable tool that can serve as a companion therapy to other diabetes treatments, like GLP-1s. The company also says it can support GLP-1 dose titration.
Finally, the company says that CGM increases patients’ safety by helping to lower the risk of hypoglycemic events. That proves especially important for GLP-1 users who also use insulin.
Analysts reacted positively to this data
A number of analysts from Wells Fargo Securities offered their views on the latest real-world data from Abbott. The list includes Larry Biegelsen, Nathan Treybeck, Vik Chopra, Lei Huang and Charles Ellson.
The analysts said that, while some investors expressed concern about CGM adherence coming in lower in GLP-1 users, the Abbott pharmacy data showed exactly the opposite. They also noted that Dexcom, another major player in the CGM space, reported an increase in CGM use with GLP-1 initiation.
“Overall, we see this positive data suggesting that GLP-1s could actually be a modest tailwind for Libre, vs. the headwind many feared,” the Wells Fargo analysts wrote.
Like the analysts, the markets recorded a positive reaction to this update from Abbott. Shares of ABT ticked up about 2.2% at $97.60 apiece in midday trading today. MassDevice’s MedTech 100 Index — which includes stocks of the world’s largest medical device companies — rose 1%.