Abbott seen pulling ahead in glucose monitoring race: UBS doc survey
- In the fast-growing glucose monitoring market, Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre was picked in a survey of more than 150 doctors as the device likely to gain the most share over the next two years.
- Lower cost, wider insurance coverage and ease of use are giving Abbott an advantage in the marketplace, according to the findings by investment bank UBS. But physicians favored Medtronic’s 670G hybrid closed loop system and Dexcom’s G6 continuous glucose monitor as the best CGM technology.
- In additional reports on two insulin pump makers, UBS downgraded shares of Insulet, citing stock valuation and expected share loss for the company’s Omnipod device, and upgraded shares of Tandem, whose t:slim X2 system garnered the second most votes from physicians for top pump technology, behind Medtronic.
Doctors’ expectations for FreeStyle Libre illustrate the impact the device has had on the diabetes care market in just over a year and a half since its U.S. launch, UBS analysts said. For the survey conducted in July and August, UBS interviewed 156 U.S. physicians specializing in endocrinology, primary care and internal medicine, who treat an average of 870 diabetes patients a year.
Abbott itself has called demand for the glucose monitor “unprecedented,” driving organic growth of 73% for the device in the second quarter. CEO Miles White said the device was priced to be affordable, and insurers are increasingly reimbursing for it.
In the UBS survey, physicians estimated FreeStyle Libre is now used by 21% of their Type 1 patients, and they expect the figure to grow to 25% in two years. Even greater growth is predicted for the device among patients who follow the IIT2 intensive insulin therapy protocol, from 25% to 33%, and in the broader Type 2 population, from 22% to 29%.
Abbott’s pricing strategy could have a key influence on market dynamics, with about 57% of doctors expecting FreeStyle Libre’s low cost to prompt price reductions in other CGM devices. Slightly more than a third of physicians also expect Abbott’s pricing to lead to reimbursement cuts for CGM devices.
Overall, the doctors expect CGM technology to continue to gain traction among diabetes patients and use of traditional finger sticks to decline. While Abbott is predicted to gain the most market share over the next two years, Dexcom also is expected to see a slight increase, the survey found. Asked to choose the best CGM technology, physicians named Medtronic and Dexcom in a tie vote, followed by Tandem, Abbott and Senseonics.
Medtronic was expected to cede some share, as was Tandem with Dexcom’s G6 technology, and Senseonics was projected to lose the most share. Some of the pessimism on Tandem and Senseonics could be explained by a lack of familiarity with the products, the UBS analysts wrote.
Physicians in the survey also see insulin pump use increasing over the next two years. Medtronic, selected as having the best pump technology, was projected to be the biggest market share gainer, with Tandem in second place and Insulet in third. Expected to lose share were Bigfoot Medical and Beta Bionics, which similar to smaller companies in the CGM field, the analysts attributed to potential lack of familiarity with the devices.