The product, launched for patients in seven countries in Europe since September, has already been used by over 15,000 patients, said Matthew Bates, director - R&D*, Abbott Diabetes Care.
The system consists of a round sensor, slightly larger than a 10-rupee coin. A doctor can fit this water-resistant and disposable sensor on the back of the upper arm of a person with diabetes. The sensor will remain on the back of the arm for up to 14 days, continuously measuring glucose in interstitial fluid (just under the skin) through a small filament that is inserted just under the skin. It records glucose levels every 15 minutes, capturing up to 1340 glucose readings over 14 days.
When the person returns to the doctor after two weeks, the doctor uses a Flash Glucose Monitoring reader to scan the sensor and download the glucose results that are stored in the sensor to assess the data (Ambulatory Glucose Profile or AGP graph) using a software.
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The patient will have to pay Rs 1,999 for the sensor. The reader with the doctor costs Rs 5,000 and can be used multiple times, said Dilip Rajan, Country Head of Abbott's diabetes care unit in India. Currently, the Indian market for glucose monitoring devices is estimated in the range of $100 million. Globally, the market is about $12 billion, led by Roche, Johnson & Johnson and Abbott.
India's population living with diabetes today is 65.1 million and this is expected to cross 100 million in another 15 years. Poor diabetes control cause increased risk of health complications including nerve problems, heart diseases, retinopathy and foot ulcers.
"Numerous patients in India have poor sugar control, despite the medicines and physician advice," says Dr Shashank Joshi, a leading endocrinologist and diabetologist and president, Association of Physicians of India.
Current diabetes monitoring tools are limiting since they do not reveal a complete picture of the glucose fluctuations that a person goes through during a day. A complete glucose profile over 14 days including nights will help doctors make more informed treatment decisions, which in turn will help patients manage their diabetes better, says Dr Joshi.
He says though a few versions of wearable glucose monitoring systems are available in the market, high humidity in Indian conditions cause to give wrong data - an example being glucose monitoring watches launched in India in 2003.
*The statement was wrongly attributed to Robert Ford, senior vice-president, Diabetes Care, Abbott. The change has been made.