Price of Blood Glucose Test Strips to the NHS to be cut by 50%
Ambe Medical Group Revolutionises Diabetes Strategy
– Price of Blood Glucose Test Strips to the NHS to be cut by 50% – “My Lords, I Cannot say why They are so Expensive” (Baroness Thornton House of Lords June 23 2008) – NHS Spends 10% of Annual Budget on Treating Diabetes On Thursday May 21, 2009, 3:00 am EDT
KEMSING, England, May 21 /PRNewswire/ — Living with diabetes involves keeping a close eye on blood glucose levels. This is done by putting a drop of blood onto a small but expensive device called a test strip. A dramatic price reduction by Ambe Medical Group could herald a big change in diabetes management and NHS strategy.
The price of test strips has long been a contentious issue. With the explosion of diabetes (150,000 new cases in 2008 alone) the NHS is struggling with ever increasing costs. The charity, Diabetes UK has analysed official figures and calculated the NHS is now spending 10% of its annual budget on treating diabetes. A major component of these costs is test strips, with many- primary care trusts (PCT’s) spending nearly as much on test strips as they do on medications to treat the disease.
In response, pressure has been placed on PCT’s to curb excessive use of strips which has led to accusations of rationing and petitions by Diabetes organisations to maintain the free availability of strips for those who need them. Diabetes blogs have the recurrent theme that government advice on testing frequency may have more to do with controlling costs than patient care.
The NHS has also looked at the supply side of the equation and firmly believes it is paying too much for test strips. Manufacturers either give away or heavily discount the instruments (meters) used to read the strips in order to promote sales. This has resulted in it being common for people to have two or three meters each. This generosity is ultimately funded by the NHS, as it is only possible with high strip prices. However, efforts to date by the NHS to obtain better test strip prices from manufacturers have largely failed.
On May 1, 2009, one manufacturer reduced the price of their test strip to the NHS, by approximately 50% (distributed in the UK by Ambe Medical Group). This should allow the NHS to save money on strips and perhaps loosen the restrictions on supply a little, but there is one catch – the test strip (Glucoflex-R) is read by eye, not by meter. Critics argue this is not as accurate or convenient as meter testing. The manufacturer cites studies that show the product is just as effective despite not giving an answer to one decimal place, something they argue is unnecessary for control of blood sugar. This debate has already happened in Germany where Glucoflex-R is an established strip for type 2 diabetes (test strips are not subsidised by the German government for people with Type 2 Diabetes). As a footnote, another low cost visually read strip is soon to be available on prescription according to sources at the NHS. How the other manufactures and the NHS react to these developments, remains to be seen. To learn more about Glucoflex-R blood glucose test strips please visit http://uk.betachek.com/new_glucoflex.htm
Distributed in the UK by Ambe Medical Group
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