They say a rising tide lifts all boats, and that certainly seems to be the case with the new wave of drugs and devices for diabetes management.
In a recent analysis (PDF), Abbott examined trends in usage of both its own FreeStyle Libre continuous glucose monitor technology and increasingly popular GLP-1 drugs from Big Pharmas like Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly for treating Type 2 diabetes and aiding in weight management.
Relying on insurance claims data and its own company models, Abbott concluded that the relationship between CGM devices and GLP-1 drugs is something of a symbiotic one, with adherence for each approach inching upward when adopted by users interested in both.
Though Abbott didn’t include actual adherence numbers in the analysis and declined a request from Fierce Medtech for the data, charts included in the presentation show that FreeStyle Libre adherence—as in, the number of days the sensor was worn—was noticeably higher among users with Type 2 diabetes who were also taking GLP-1 drugs compared to those using the CGM alone.
Those findings stayed steady across the board: in data from both 2019 and 2022, and among both intensive patients, who inject insulin multiple times each day, and non-intensives, who either rely on basal insulin only or don’t use insulin to manage their diabetes at all.
The results were similar in the opposite direction, too. GLP-1 adherence, denoting the number of days on the drug therapy regimen, was consistently higher among those who were prescribed the drug and were also using a FreeStyle Libre device compared to those only on GLP-1 therapy. And, once again, that advantage was seen across the 2019 and 2022 data as well as among insulin-intensive and non-intensive users.
Abbott suggested that GLP-1 and FreeStyle Libre adherence may work well in tandem because CGM devices like its own provide data and insights about users' health that can help them better understand how food and exercise impact their glucose levels, therefore guiding them to make both short- and long-term behavior modifications that can include slotting in a GLP-1 drug to boost results. CGMs also provide “a level of accountability that drives higher therapy compliance and more durable outcomes,” per Abbott.
Additionally, the company wrote, using a CGM can further benefit GLP-1 users—and especially those who also use insulin—by reducing the risk of hypoglycemic events and therefore increasing patient safety.
The findings are especially relevant as the number of people using CGMs and GLP-1 drugs—either together or separately—has rapidly increased in recent years. Between 2018 and June of this year, according to the devicemaker’s data, its total FreeStyle Libre user base has grown from 1.3 million to 5.2 million people around the world. Meanwhile, the fraction of FreeStyle Libre users with Type 2 diabetes who are also on GLP-1 drugs has grown from approximately 25% to more than 40% during the same period.
With demand for GLP-1 drugs like Wegovy and Ozempic still skyrocketing, the analysis brought a respectable boost to Abbott—in a way, mirroring the results of the analysis. After it published the report Thursday morning, Abbott’s stock jumped about 3.5% throughout the day, from below $96 at market close Wednesday to well over $98 by the end of the day Thursday.