Abbott (NYSE:ABT) today shared a number of positive updates on its Diabetes business as part of its second-quarter earnings report.
The medtech giant’s Diabetes unit brought in sales of $1.4 billion in the quarter, marking 19.4% growth year-over-year.
Its FreeStyle Libre continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) continue to drive growth as CEO Robert Ford projected earlier this year. The addressable market for the sensor keeps growing, with massive coverage expansions all around the globe. Medicare’s coverage update kicked in this past spring. This modification includes people with diabetes who receive insulin treatment or have a history of problematic hypoglycemia.
Last month, France authorized reimbursement to include all people who use basal insulin as part of their diabetes management.
“This achievement was a direct result of the unique value proposition that Libre offers, a fully featured continuous glucose monitor made available at an accessible price,” Ford said in the company’s earnings call Thursday morning.
Integration opportunities continue to arise for Libre, too. Ford expects the company to finalize Libre integration into Tandem Diabetes Care’s insulin pumps in the U.S. this year. The companies first struck a deal to combine technologies in 2020. Last month, Insulet announced progress in integrating FreeStyle Libre 2 into its Omnipod 5 insulin delivery system, too. Meanwhile, FreeStyle Libre 3 continuous glucose monitor (CGM) received U.K. authorization for use in automated insulin delivery this year.
More on FreeStyle Libre
With 25% FreeStyle Libre growth overall, plus 30% growth in the U.S., Ford says the company moved past some upgrading activities and felt the positive impact of that.
Basal insulin users represent a massive win, Ford noted, especially in France, where Abbott has about a 70% share of that market.
“It provides us with great momentum,” Ford said. “Now, you’ve got the U.S., Japan and France reimbursing for basal. I mean, those are three of the top five markets in the world, and we’re well positioned there. U.S. coverage began in April. So, that’s playing out nicely also. I think we’ve got great momentum here.”
Ford also cited excitement over upcoming launch activity for the FreeStyle Libre 3. The FDA cleared Abbott’s next-generation FreeStyle Libre 3 last year. Abbott plans for a 15-day sensor launch in the U.S. in the second half of this year, now.
The company also expects to begin a trial on a glucose-ketone dual-sensor trial in the fourth quarter. Abbott also plans to convert its FreeStyle Libre 2 users to streaming, switching from scans to real-time streaming through an app update. The first successful conversion to streaming took place in the U.K. last weekend.
Ford also said there’s “a lot of pipeline activity” slated for the second half of 2023.
“Just think about our ability here to convert our entire L2 base into a slightly small version of L3 across the world with all the manufacturing capacity we have,” Ford said. “I’m really excited about that. I think Libre is on a great trajectory with great momentum. And I think that’s going to continue.”
BTIG analysts Marie Thibault and Sam Eiber were also high on Libre’s momentum.
“We think this growth profile will be sustainable as access to Libre expands into new patient populations like basal-only in the U.S. and France and the U.S. AID market later this year,” they wrote.
Plans go beyond diabetes at Abbott
Another big step forward in glucose monitoring for Abbott comes in the form of its Lingo system.
In January 2022, Ford delivered a keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2022 event. He headlined the “Human-Powered Health: Unlocking the Possibility of You” event. In that keynote, he announced that Abbott had a new category of biowearables for athletes called “Lingo” under development.
Abbott launched Lingo in the U.K. yesterday.
“As we were building the Lingo platform, we knew it would be in the situation where can we expand beyond diabetes,” Ford said. “We’ve been very thoughtful about it and very intentional about it. The opportunity during COVID to invest heavily in this was our opportunity.”
The company aims to deliver personalized improvements to metabolic health management. Lingo tells users about glucose spikes and how their body reacts to food, sleep and exercise. Abbott designed it to enable the user to minimize those spikes throughout the day. Lingo learns about the user’s metabolism through the sensor, then assigns a daily target.
“We believe that’s a great kind of behavior modification tool for those that don’t have diabetes,” Ford said. “There are charts, there is data, there is all that you have in the app. We believe that the simplicity of this Lingo count is really key to modifying behavior.”
The subscription-based, direct-to-consumer model is the path Abbott plans to take, while it also intends to look for partnerships. Pricing falls in line with the cash-pay prices for FreeStyle Libre. The company plans to learn from its U.K. launch and then roll out in other markets.
Abbott intends to file in the U.S. by the end of the year. The system starts with glucose measurements, and Abbott plans to add ketone measurements and potentially lactate measurements.
“All of those opportunities are all there,” Ford said. “I actually think that there is going to be an opportunity with ketones in the diabetes space, for sure. And that dual sensor with ketones glucose is very strong for a specific diabetes population, but I also think it could be strong for a non-diabetes population.”