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Thursday, 14 April 2016


A week ago I received a letter in my mail from the NDSS, informing me that the way I received my pump consumables would change. I vaguely glanced at it, shrugged, and aimed it at the garbage for 2 points. I'd had a stressful week and wasn't in the right frame of mind to really comprehend what that horrible little letter contained, but it was still in the back of my mind.

The contents of the letter were dragged from the depths today when I had an email from my pump company, Medtronic, wanting to warn pump users of the impending consumables apocalypse. 

"Whilst the change-over date has been made clear, the timing and process for the transition is still very unclear...we are unsure of the impact of the transition and how you access your pump supplies during May and June....

To ensure you don’t run out, we urge you to consider stocking up now. This way you will have peace of mind during the next 4 months of supply transition."

This email was in response to the recent announcement:

"The Federal Government has announced that it will implement changes to the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) from July 1, 2016...diabetes-related products will no longer be distributed through Diabetes Queensland or via other agents of Diabetes Australia interstate.
From July 1, subsidised NDSS products, such as needles, syringes, blood glucose test strips, urine test strips and insulin pump consumables will remain available, but through community pharmacies.'

From what I can gather, based on the wording in the article, is that this was a Federal Government decision, and not a good decision. I'm guessing that they think having pharmacy point collection is a good way to cut costs, either through being able to cut funding somehow if DA is no longer needed as an access point, or by cutting postage. Probably a brutal-budget mix of both.

The email from Medtronic today was essentially to say that so far, the federal government hasn't felt the need to clue them in on how this change of access points is going to happen. In an online-group discussion tonight, it was pretty clear that no-one knew how it was going to happen - including those group members who worked in NDSS pharmacies. 

At this point, the alarm bells going off in my brain have moved beyond a constant ringing to full-on emergency bomb-blast sirens screeching.

If the pump companies themselves and the NDSS access point pharmacies don't know what's going on, its probably time to panic, do as they suggest, and start hoarding supplies for the long haul. Winter is coming. I'm not trying to be a dramatist or anything, but I did just max out my bank card bulk-buying enough supplies to last a good 6 months.

I can only imagine that this warning telling everyone to start stocking up is going to impact on pump consumable stocks. Black-markets for hard-to-find pump supplies will start popping up soon. I better work on my haggling skills, and be ready to trade my first-born.

What's not also clear is:

1. - What the deal is for those who live rurally? They are likely to be impacted quite a lot by this move. Rural pharmacies may also be less likely to stock items if they only have 1 customer buying the product.

2. - How pharmacies will handle this in terms of stock levels? One of the reasons I like ordering online so much is because I can bulk order - and I always have, I usually order 4 months worth of supplies at once. Bulk ordering comes in handy not only for lazy people like myself, but those who are wanting to travel (I ordered so many supplies before I went overseas!), and again, those who live rurally and remotely. Pharmacies often place irritating self-imposed limits on how many of one item you can buy - for example they may allow you to only buy 1 or 2 boxes of test strips at a time. This will limit the ability to bulk order

3. - How are pharmacies expected to stock the necessary consumables? The test strips that I use are not stocked in store - presumably because pharmacies tend to only stock a few different types of test strips due to space restrictions. Same goes for pump consumables. Where are they finding the room to keep all the many, many different types of strips, reservoirs and canulas? Will they just have a wall devoted to diabetes care? With the amount of pump users in Australia, its not likely.

4. - If they're not stocking the consumables in store, are they ordering them on an 'in-demand' or 'special-order' basis? If so, how is this any different at all to letting us just order through DA? Same amount of postage because they'd just be getting small shipments in for each customer all the time. They wouldn't be able to wait until a certain amount of orders were reached - because again, there's not many Type 1's to begin with, let alone the much smaller number on pumps.

Another factor to consider, that I highly doubt the federal Government has even thought about it, is that this may directly impact on donations made to DA. Thus cutting support even further. I always include a donation every time I order - I factor it as 'postage costs' (seeing as we don't pay postage) and just hand it over as a donation instead. I don't miss the donations that I make, because they're small enough not to impact, but they can tot up to a fair bit over the year. I will of course still donate, but I run the risk of not remembering unless reminded. 

 I'm going to need to see a proper plan before I'll start to believe that this was ever a good idea on the federal government's behalf. Until then I'll be making sure I keep my hoard of supplies well stocked.


  1. "Winter is coming" got me :)
    But seriously that was a scary letter. I'm good for about 4 months of pump supplies. Maybe I should get some more test strips though, thank you for the kick to do that!
    I chose a really great time to apply for a rural placement scholarship huh...

    1. A rural placement sounds so exciting though! What an experiance.

      Once all the kinks in the new system have been ironed out, hopefully you will get along just fine. Hopefully someone at home can order & post the supplies to you if you're not close to a chemist.

  2. I agree about buying in pharmacies - I always feel unconfortable buying more than 1 or 2 boxes of strips. I'm starting on a pump in a few weeks, and I was thinking the same thing about how pharmacies will stock all of the different consumable lines...

    1. There was a bit of discussion on this....One of the D-mums went & talked to her local pharmacy, & they said that if they don't carry the stock, they are supposed to be ordered in within 24 hours for you (Insert a derisive snort here).

      Good luck with starting on your pump! Its an exciting time...but definitely make sure you have a stash up for tend to waste a few sets & reservoirs in the early days before you figure out that: A - reservoirs are reusable and b - how to get sets to stay in properly & good spots to put them in.