With continued progress on established platforms, new acquisitions and new products, Abbott (NYSE:ABT) has high expectations for its Diabetes business.
Speaking at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, CEO Robert Ford highlighted diabetes as a key area for near-term growth. Specifically, in the presentation transcribed by SeekingAlpha, Ford said he expects the FreeStyle Libre continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to significantly drive growth.
“FreeStyle Libre has fundamentally changed the management of diabetes,” Ford said. “[It’s] our market-leading wearable glucose sensor… There are now more than 5 million users of Libre around the world, with 2 million in the United States.”
Abbott Diabetes DVP, Technical Operations, Marc Taub explained the development process for Libre at DeviceTalks West in October. Read about it here.
Ford said the company sought to target the mass market with FreeStyle Libre, finding success there. Sales now annualized at more than $5 billion for the device and the company sees even more opportunity. With more than 500 million people living with diabetes worldwide, Ford says Abbott has “just begun to scratch the surface.”
“There are several new growth opportunities for us on the horizon,” he declared.
Medicare reimbursement and other broadened coverage play a huge part in that growth, according to the CEO. He expects that trend to continue internationally. Meanwhile the company also now has Libre connecting to automated insulin pumps. The company announced last week that it completed integration with Tandem Diabetes Care’s automated insulin delivery technology. Abbott also continues to work on integration with Insulet’s Omnipod 5.
“This new opportunity is a result of several collaboration agreements we have with leading insulin pump manufacturers and this is an exciting new development for those who chose to receive their insulin through a wearable pump,” Ford said.
More progress on Lingo at Abbott
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.
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.
Abbott launched Lingo in the U.K. last year. Ford has spoken in the past about the expectations for Lingo as yet another growth driver.
At J.P. Morgan, he said users find Lingo engaging, enjoyable, educational and, most importantly, “life-changing.” He notes that users report positive changes to their lifestyles and behavior changes.
“We’re taking this wearable technology and moving it beyond diabetes and into the personalized consumer health market,” Ford said. “Ultimately, we want this technology to be available to everybody.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to bring Lingo to the U.S. market soon.”
Ford said Abbott has generated plenty of clinical data for its diabetes platforms thus far. With a positive impact on reimbursement decisions, the company believes this data can continue to bolster a “tremendous opportunity” for both company growth and patient impact.
“[Lingo] benefits from the scale, the global presence, the capacity that we have and now focusing on targeting people that actually are healthy,” Ford said. “That’s not something that you hear a lot of health care companies doing, which is targeting the healthy population so they can stay healthy. And that’s what Lingo is intended to do.”