Abbott CEO: Sales Make Libre 'Most Successful Medical Device In History'

 Image above: ad for Freestyle Libre continuous glucose monitor for diabetics.

“In terms of sales dollars, Libre has become the most successful medical device in history,” Abbott CEO Robert Ford declared during the company’s fourth quarter 2023 earnings call Wednesday morning.

Sales of Abbott’s Freestyle Libre continuous glucose monitor for diabetics were more than $5.3 billion for all of 2023 and $1.4 billion in the quarter, representing increases of over 24% and 25.4% respectively. U.S. sales rose 32% in the quarter, Ford said, even without “unleashing” the brand’s new Libre 3 version in the market.

Ford projected even further growth in 2024, pointing not only to Libre 3 but also opportunities in the basal insulin and insulin pump markets.

Citing “150,000 to 200,000 new pumpers every year,” Ford said that the pump market has only recently opened up to Libre, thanks to the Libre-pump connection gaining regulatory clearance. Earlier this month, Abbott announced its first pump integration -- with Tandem Diabetes Care.



On the CPG nutrition front, Abbott appears to have totally recovered from the baby formula shutdowns and shortages a couple of years back. Not only has Abbott’s infant formula business, which includes brands like Similac, regained its number-one market share in the U.S., Ford said, but he expects to “actually surpass our pre-recall share,” although he couldn’t say when.

Ford said international sales growth of 18% was driven by both infant formula products and Abbott’s Pediasure toddler brand.

He also singled out the adult nutrition segment as a key mover, noting that it's growing in high single digits and will be “a big growth driver for us going forward.”

Abbott’s adult nutrition brands, which include Ensure and Glucerna, achieved $4 billion in sales in 2023, up $1 billion since pre-pandemic days, Ford said, citing “a pretty sustainable demographic trend that we’re seeing, which is an aging population focusing on healthcare and on nutrition.”

Abbott also has some new launches coming in adult nutrition, Ford said, including, later this year, a nutritional drink for users of GLP-1 weight loss drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy.

Abbott’s fourth quarter results in its diagnostics business, meanwhile, may signal a sales factor affecting other pharma companies’ upcoming earnings reports.

“The flu season arrived later this year than last year,” Ford said, “which caused sales of flu and other respiratory virus tests to be lower.”


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