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Health care goes OTC

Health care goes OTC

As is par for the course these days, my inbox this month has been filled with diabetes tech announcements: Edgepark is adding a new insulin delivery system to its portfolio, Insulet’s Omnipod is fueling growth and Ascensia is expanding access to its Eversense device by extending its PASS program, which offers a substantial discount for users. 

That last one is key: All the technology in the world won’t help if it’s too expensive for people to acquire. And this stuff is expensive with a capital “E.” 

It's more like, OMG?! and WTF – the sticker shock is real. 

So, I was also excited to see in my inbox that Dexcom is readying to launch Stelo by Dexcom, a continuous glucose monitor that will be available over the counter as early as this summer. 

That’s right. OTC, no prescription necessary. I don’t know what the device will retail for, but without all the paperwork and documentation requirements and money-grubbing PBMs driving up costs for literally everyone, it’s bound to be a lot more affordable. And, because there’s no prescription required, there’s no expenses associated with a doctor’s visit, either. 

To be clear, the device is only available to Type 2 diabetes patients not using insulin, but that’s still a substantial number of people. And once the ball starts rolling, it picks up speed. Other devices will follow the Stelo onto the market. Competition tends to lower prices – for everyone. 

As for me, I recently had my annual check-up with the endocrinologist. My numbers, alas, aren’t where either of us would like them to be and the overnights are proving trickier than ever. Dr. D gave me a new prescription for the latest Libre Freestyle 3, which is about two generations newer than the one I’m using. The Freestyle 3 has warning alarms (which is a good thing but can also be annoying – no one likes waking up at 3 a.m. to a false alarm). 

To my surprise, the prescription was filled immediately (it’s usually like pulling teeth to get my sensors in a timely fashion).  

Well, false alarm! The Freestyle 3 reader was ready for me to pick up, but they wouldn’t fill the prescription for the sensor yet. The reader is useless until they do. But that’s the insurance shuffle most of us deal with all the time.


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