The surge of interest in early detection of diabetes is being hailed as a major step forward in controlling the disease--with patients, obviously, the big winners. The other side to that coin, monitoring of the disease, puts an important part of control in the hands of the pharmacist. Toward this end, blood glucose monitors provide an excellent product area to enhance the pharmacy professionally and economically.
George Fiedler, product manager at Boehringer Mannheim for Accu-Chek Easy blood glucose monitors, sees big advantages for pharmacies that cater to patients with diabetes. He cited studies showing that persons with diabetes tend to purchase three times as much in pharmacies as their nondiabetic counterparts.
As for blood glucose monitors, Fiedler noted that while the diabetic patient is apt to take the advice of a physician regarding the brand to purchase, the pharmacist can also be a big influence, particularly when a monitor is being replaced. A pharmacist with knowledge of products that diagnose and treat diabetes will attract loyal customers, he said.
MONITORING MAKES SENSE: Ron Jackson is v.p.-sales and marketing for Cascade Medical Inc., manufacturer of the CheckMate blood glucose monitor. He sees the new generation of monitors as easier to use and more accurate than ever. He also predicts that the market will be increasing by 15% to 20% over the next five years, for three reasons: Each year, approximately 750,000 people learn that they have diabetes; the population is living longer; and there is more awareness of the advantages of monitoring.
The role of the pharmacist in helping a diabetic patient choose a blood glucose monitor is important and becoming even more so. Jackson told Drug Topics that the patient who first learns of a diabetic condition is apt to do anything the physician says. But the physician, Jackson said, is likely to turn the patient over to a nurse educator who informs the patient about controlling the disease, presents a variety of meters, and helps the patient choose one.
The increasing influence of the pharmacist in the purchasing decision has been particularly evident over the past two years, said Jackson. One reason, he indicated, is that meters are easier to operate and more user friendly, requiring less instruction from a nurse educator. Jackson feels that the patient is more comfortable making his or her own decision at the point of purchase--perhaps swayed by consumer advertising and assisted by the pharmacist--particularly if it is not the patient's first blood glucose monitor.
The sale of meters and strips is a $500 million-to $550 million-a-year business, in trade-cost dollars, said Jackson. It is a growing business, and the pharmacist has many good reasons for catering to the needs of the diabetic patient, not the least of which is that this patient is a good customer, one who spends approximately $2,500 a year on such items as syringes, insulin, eye medication, and skin lotions.
NETWORK NURSES: Larry Pozanek is a pharmacist who operates Citizens Pharmacy in Havre de Grace, …