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FreeStyle Libre deliveries delayed by up to three weeks

PSNC advised pharmacists to refer any affected patients back to their prescriber
PSNC advised pharmacists to refer any affected patients back to their prescriber

Community pharmacies are facing weeks-long waits for the FreeStyle Libre glucose monitoring system following supply problems.

Pharmacies can expect their deliveries to be delayed by up to three weeks “from date of order”, manufacturer Abbott said in an update published by the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) on Wednesday (January 8).

“We are doing all we can to expedite shipments in an effort to minimise any interruptions and are sorry for the inconvenience this may cause," Abbott said. The company added that pharmacies “will receive an email with a tracking number when the product is dispatched”.

PSNC advised pharmacists to refer any affected patients back to their prescriber, to allow them to adopt alternative glucose monitoring methods in the meantime.

Direct supply

The FreeStyle Libre sensors can only be purchased directly from Abbott, the manufacturer said in a document with frequently asked questions for pharmacists.

Knights Pharmacy superintendent Pete Horrocks told C+D earlier this week that he has been experiencing delays “since before Christmas and that the [Abbott] customer service team cannot guarantee availability of stock”.

"Many of our customers have been transferred over to the new Libra sensor but with the recent ‘shipping’ issues, our pharmacy teams have had to coordinate with prescribers and diabetes nurses to arrange for alternative meters and blood testing strips for our patients," Mr Horrocks said. 

"In many instances, pharmacy teams receive the brunt of patients’ frustrations," he added.


Chris Bland, area manager at Kamsons Pharmacy, told C+D yesterday (January 9) that the chain's patients have also been affected by the delays in delivery.

"I must have spent three hours yesterday ringing hospitals, colleagues and Abbott to try and get stock," he said.

Abbott still allows pharmacists to place orders for the sensors, despite the current supply delays, Mr Bland claimed. 

"The silver lining is, I got an email this morning saying I should be receiving some stock shortly. Let's wait and see."

The FreeStyle Libre sensor was added to the NHS drug tariff in 2017. From April 2019, NHS England pledged to fund access to the device for people with type 1 diabetes.

Abbott states that “in the vast majority of cases, stock will be delivered within 24 hours to the pharmacy, or the pharmacy counter within a store”.

The FreeStyle Optium test strips, which are compatible with the FreeStyle Libre system, are in stock and pharmacists can order them via their usual wholesaler, Abbott told C+D.

Have your deliveries of the FreeStyle Libre sensor been delayed?

will cockburn, Community pharmacist


An open invitation to a response from a) Managing Director Abbot b) Matt Hancock c) Prime Minister Boris Johnson d) a.n.other with responsibilities which include agreeing with manufacturers that products can be supplied within the NHS.

We have become desensitised to medicines being unavailable.

BUT here in my geographic region of the UK the diabetic patients who were introduced first to Libre were those under a consultant because their condition was DANGEROUSLY difficult to control.

1.I have been informed that the stock is in the country.

2. I am awaiting an answer as to why it then takes 3 weeks to reach the patient/ pharmacy.

3. If there is a problem with transport surely there is someone within Abbot who can reorganise/ institute a temporary fix to offer supplies within 48 hours.

If not then I'm pretty sure there are many shipping companies that would willingly step in.

4. When the NHS agreed to include Libre in its contract for supply to patients presumably the contract has some standards of supply therein which are now not being met.

5. Who will ask questions on behalf of the government/ NHS / patients?

A.S. Singh, Community pharmacist

typical checklist:


only one supplier wholesaler to supply product - check

long winded method to order item - check

item is out of stock, cannot obtain by any other means - check


And repeat with lilly,pfizer etc


C A, Community pharmacist

Yes I've been waiting for deliveries for 3 weeks. It's a pain as I have just had to tell patients that they are on back order and we are waiting on Abbott. I've spoken to the surgeries to ensure they have normal test strips to fall back on, because the best Abbott can do is send an email when they ship apparently... so frustrating.

Joan Richardson, Locum pharmacist

As above - we face the brunt of the patients frustrations.

New year! Same old problems!

Dave Downham, Manager

Utter shambles. The main wholesalers have their issues but by keeping the distribution in house to cut out the middle man has backfired on Abbott here.

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