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Libre - March 2018 Update

Since November 2017 and the official listing of Libre on prescription, so much has changed, but has it changed for the better?

I think broadly the answer to that question is No, but not for want of trying.  The situation has become increasingly confusing and disjointed.

Getting it on Prescription

Firstly, the prescribing of Libre.  Wales have said yes, most other areas have said perhaps.  This map shows the current status by CCG: Diabetes UK Joint Policy Tracker.  There are improvements, but this demonstrates the postcode lottery.

The data on prescribing rates are published but this data is woefully slow to become in the public domain.  The final UK country to publish data was Scotland, which finally released December data on 13th March!

Here's the data so far:

This shows an increase, but hardly an avalanche!  Wish I could see the January data...Northern Ireland should publish very soon though.

There are CCGs like Manchester that have now approved prescribing, but it's slow and I think everyone is looking to London to make a decision.  I hear that could be April.

Buy Libre Retail (often not for the faint-hearted!)

What about retail supply?  Well that's where it starts to get messy, frustrating and it could/should have been so simple!  An RRP from Abbott and a note to say that Diabetic products are usually VAT-exempt with an appropriate form would have simplified our lives considerably.

It turns out, because we (the #gbdoc) found out that you can buy sensors over the counter.  You can, but it's a lottery as to whether the pharmacy

a) believes you,
b) knows how to order
c) knows what to charge
d) understands that diabetic-only products like this are VAT-exempt.

So many people have been made to feel as if they're asking for the wrong thing, don't know what they're talking about and are 'trying to pull a fast one'.  It's so frustrating!  I've called numerous pharmacies and had Twitter exchanges with retailers' Head Offices to try and get them to get a coherent strategy.  With many pharmacies, even big chains, they just don't get it!

It is clear that there are correct ex-VAT prices for each of the main pharmacy chains:

Superdrug - £35
Asda - £44
Boots - £48.27
Lloyds - £52.50
(for comparison Abbott - £48.29 if you can get a free postage code and be prepared to wait four weeks for delivery - more below)

Many are supplying cheaper...mainly because they didn't 'get the memo' but £35 sensors (cost price) are out there...I've bought two myself!  There's also plenty of £63 sensors out there...don't ever accept that price, it's wrong!
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STOP PRESS
We've just had a report from a Facebook group member of sensors available at a certain retailer not so far mentioned for £29.17!  Such is the confusion that retailers are even selling sensors at a loss!!
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I decided to try and collate those pharmacies that were being helpful and this information is available here: Map of pharmacies who supply.  The data in this map can be amended by anyone with a Google account.

Delivery Issues

To top all this confusion off, Abbott have stopped the monthly free postage code.  It is still possible to get free postage, but you have to know the trick (see pinned post of Facebook groups).  That said, I wouldn't bother ordering direct as there is currently a 3-4 weeks lead-time.

Does that mean you can't get hold of Libre sensors quickly?  The answer is No.  You can get them form the pharmacies (good luck!) listed above.  They don't come in three to four weeks, instead they come next day, or sometimes off the shelf immediately.  That'll teach us for being loyal customers of Abbott!!

The website-procured supply comes via Arvato in France, whereas the supply to pharmacies comes from a UK warehouse.  Why, I have no idea!  The French warehouse seem to be less able in many ways, as demonstrated when they were unable to fix the short shelf-life issue in late 2017.  There was a suggestion from Abbott that this was because NHS supply had to be ring-fenced...but NHS supply is hardly retail sales!  And 3,200 sensors in two months is hardly a big spike in supply.

Time and again Abbott are failing to engage with the patients who are there customers - what are they so afraid of?  We're paying them thousands of pounds, why do they seem to distrust us so much?  Even when writing to them as a representative of the #GBDoc replies are terse and dismissive, almost as if written by a bot! (Rant over..Love you Abbott!).

May Update - It seems that the delivery issues may be improving but the retailers are struggling more to source - not sure whether Abbott is responsible for the retailer issues.

Watch this space...

There groundswell of support for Libre is growing and thanks to a number of well-connected physicians and the online community, prescribing of Libre is going to increase.  I only hope that this increased prescribing is joined with increased education, so that the transformational effect of this excellent technology can be felt by as many people as possible.


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