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Pharmacies out of pocket after 'surge' in diabetes sensor prescribing

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee is concerned that contractors are not being given a discount deduction on the glucose monitoring systems being prescribed, following a “surge” of prescriptions since April 2019.

Glucose monitoring system for diabetes


There has been a nationwide increase in the number of glucose monitoring systems being prescribed for people with type 1 diabetes in the UK

Pharmacy negotiators are in discussions with government over reports that community pharmacists are being left out of pocket following a “surge” in prescriptions of a flash glucose monitoring device for people with type 1 diabetes mellitus.

The Freestyle Libre sensors became available on the NHS across England in April 2019 and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said there since been a spike in prescriptions for them. Previously, availability varied depending on local clinical commissioning group policy.

Following discussions at its May 2019 meeting, the PSNC said there were concerns that contractors are not given a discount on the product, nor can they claim exemption from discount deduction.

Mike Dent, director of pharmacy funding at the PSNC, told The Pharmaceutical Journal: “The PSNC has received a number of reports from community pharmacy contractors who are dispensing Freestyle Libre sensors at a loss because this appliance is subject to discount deduction, yet no discount is available from its sole distributor.

“Unfortunately, this appliance does not meet the criteria for inclusion in the ‘discount not deducted’ list, but we are currently in discussions with the Department of Health and Social Care to review this.”

He added that pharmacists are only obliged to dispense appliances if such products are supplied in the normal course of their business, but he said: “We know that the decision not to supply Freestyle Libre sensors will not be taken lightly.”

NHS England announced in November 2018 that it will invest up to £910 per year per patient to enable all eligible patients to access the device on prescription from their GP or diabetes team from 1 April 2019.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20206642

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