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Abbott’s big fail

Longevity – where people lead a healthy life right up until they die of a ripe old age (sometimes called Healthspan) – has been a particular interest of mine recently having read many blogs and books by people such as Dr Peter Attia, Dr Luigi Fonranaon and Dr Andrew Huberman.

One big area of interest is the impact of sugar on bodies. Sugar seems to be implicated in the four horsemen of death: cancer; heart disease; metabolic dysfunction and metabolic syndrome; and neurodegenerative diseases. Of particular interest is balancing the highs & lows of blood glucose levels since this where much damage can be done.

So, I thought it would be a good idea to see how my body responds to sugars in food.

I needed a blood glucose monitor.

Having researched various options, the FreeStyle Libre 2 (manufactured by Abbott) looked like an excellent choice – true, expensive at $110 AUD for 2 weeks of monitoring – but the benefits of continuous monitoring was what I was looking for.

I purchased a FreeStyle Libre 2 at my local chemist. The glucose monitor is well packaged and easy to apply. I downloaded the App and read through most the copious user terms and conditions for using the App. Next, I proceeded to connect app and phone. Once connected, it takes the senor/phone an hour to get the first readings.

I patiently waited for sixty minutes.

It seemed a long time.

The hour was up, the phone started to “ping”.

Then I got the errors “check sensor” and “signal loss”.

These errors are not explained in the documentation except to say “contact support” at Abbott. Dr Google gave me the number to call, and I called the support line. This is when I discovered some interesting issues:

  1. The FreeStyle Libre 2 is ONLY for use by those dependant on insulin. It does not say this on the box nor in the documentation inside the box. The support person explained, if I went to Abbott’s Australian website I would know this… as you can see from the image, the box doesn’t say there are additional terms of use and I had to check their website.
  2. Because I didn’t have a doctor’s note nor insulin dependence, there is no warranty. And the fact the device is faulty is my problem – not theirs.
  3. The unit only works with certain phones, and my Samsung was too new (even though it is several years old). Again, the support person explained, that I should have checked the website for phone compatibility… but there is nothing on the box to indicate there might be such a problem.

Support explained that I could get a note from my doctor, they would put it on file and then send me a new sensor. However, as I pointed out, that sensor would still not work because of the phone compatibility problem.

Response from Abbott: True.

The net result, I have a used product that does not do what was claimed… so I’ll have to head back to the chemist to see if I get a refund invoking consumer law. Wish me luck!

I am so disappointed that a potentially fantastic product has been rendered useless and that there was NO WARNING from the Abbott, the manufacturer, that the product only delivers in specific circumstances – i.e. you must be insulin dependent AND have a specific model of smart phone.

Medical Devices clearly still have a long way to go.

[First published on LinkedIn 9-Apr-24]
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