Sunday, 23 June 2013

Pharmacy advertising diabetic check ups?

I am puzzled by these adverts for a pharmacy advertising diabetic check-ups, apparently for existing diagnosed diabetics.

If you are a diagnosed diabetic, in the UK, you have regular check-ups with a diabetic nurse at your doctor's surgery. You get regular proper blood tests. You get free medication as needed. The NHS works well with this, from my experience.

I am not trying to knock the skills of the pharmacist here, but they seemed to be implying people may not be on the right medication in the advert. They seem to be having a go at the skill of the doctor and diabetic nurse. Why? Is there really a medical concern that people are on the wrong medication from their doctors?

It is not like someone with a cold or a some minor ailment where they pick their own medication, and so may well benefit from advice at a pharmacist - diabetes is much more managed than that and you get prescribed medication, and advice from a dietician, and so on.

If this was advertising for people concerned they may have diabetes then it may make sense - it will be a lot easier than going to the doctor and may catch people early (and recommend seeing a doctor as a result), but the advert seems to be for people who know they are diabetic and have concerns that they are not on the right medication. Very odd. If someone was concerned they can just ask their diabetic nurse or doctor. The pharmacist can't prescribe changes to their medication, so the only result of talking to the pharmacist is either a recommendation to go back to the doctor anyway, or to sell some extra medication that is not prescribed.

Is this just FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) used to try and sell extra, paid for, treatments through the pharmacy. Next thing they will start selling placebos and homeopathy.

I am surprised that the advert is even allowed.


  1. The management is rather different for non-insulin patients it seems - rather less attention, and of course no medication until you reach the need for metformin. If there is no prescription, there's no need for a GP but there could well be things the pharmacy can offer over the counter which might help: blood pressure checks, weight loss help, socks to combat Raynaud's...

    All I've received myself is the diabetic testing, since I've managed to pass each time, but I can see the use for some additional support; my grandfather is quite terrifyingly bad at managing his (new) diabetes, and the GP seems relatively indifferent beyond the routine (retinopathy screening etc).

    The surgery will cover the routine fasting glucose and HBA1C, but I can see a rôle for non-prescription support and advice. Not every diabetic can get blood glucose testing supplies from the NHS, for example, or only get limited supplies; sadly, just because it's not covered by the NHS at present doesn't mean something is superfluous!

    1. Interesting to hear that viewpoint - and maybe I am lucky with my local GP support. The advert specifically targeted people with type 1 and 2 diabetes, not just those with concerns and undiagnosed diabetics, hence my concern. I am sure there are always some people that fall between the cracks, and maybe they are useful for that. Even so, it just gives the impression of a very irresponsible advert, IMHO.