In honour of World Diabetes Day, today I’m going to talk about a piece of technology that makes living with type one diabetes a much less stressful experience for me.
I’ve been using the Dexcom G5 Mobile system for just over four months now, and I can’t imagine a life without it now. Actually, I honestly believe I wouldn’t be alive without it. I thought that today I would answer the most popular questions I’m sent about Dexcom, and also share some exciting tidbits from a conversation I had with Karen Baxter, UK and Ireland Country Manager for Dexcom, a few weeks ago.
How much does Dexcom cost?
I know what puts a lot of people off Dexcom is the cost, which is fair enough, but it doesn’t actually cost much more than the Freestyle Libre, and you get a lot more for your money. What about that Libre funding Diabetes UK keeps talking about? Well, I’ve conducted a very informal poll of Libre users and not a single one of them has been able to access this unicorn funding. They have been told either a flat out no; that their CCG hasn’t even assessed the Libre funding situation and won’t be making a decision for months; or that the funding will only be given to pregnant women or… and wait for the irony of this… people with hypo unawareness! I was actually offered Libre funding for this, and surprisingly I said no! The Libre is totally useless and inappropriate if you’re hypo unaware.
On the other hand, Dexcom literally saves my ass multiple times a day by alarming me when my blood sugar is dipping into hypo territory. I set it to alarm me at 4.4 during the day because there is sometimes a little lag because of the way that Dexcom reads your blood sugar level from interstitial fluid rather than the blood plasma you read a finger stick from, and I set it to 3.8 at night because I find that sleeping on the sensor can cause slight false lows (you aren’t supposed to use Dexcom on your arm, so naughty me!)
Existing users pay £200 for a transmitter which lasts three months, so £66 per month. Each sensor costs £51.25 each and lasts a minimum of seven days – I usually get two weeks out of each one, but some of my friends get five or six weeks out of each sensor! Dexcom is working on a new pricing structure for existing customers who self-fund, with the aim for it to be launched this year, as in in the next two months!
If you’re new to Dexcom, the introductory offers are as follows: one transmitter and one sensor for £160 (saving £90) OR one transmitter and four sensors for £275 (saving £130). If you consider that the Libre costs about £100 per month, you can see that the price difference isn’t as big as you might think!
What did I learn from chatting to Dexcom?
A few weeks ago I had the absolute privilege of being able to speak with Karen Baxter, UK and Ireland Country Manager for Dexcom. Karen joined Dexcom about eighteen months ago as employee number one. Now Dexcom’s UK offices have grown to twenty employees. Karen has a wealth of experience, having worked in pharmaceuticals for twenty years, with ten of those in diabetes care. She previously headed up Animas’ UK operation.
What’s next for Dexcom?
The Dexcom G6 is “less than five years away” but hopefully more likely within “the next couple of years.” The aim is to reduce calibrations, which should be a massive relief for parents of diabetic children: “Dexcom understands its customers want less calibrations but not at the expense of accuracy.” Karen talked of a “nice pipeline of products coming” which will be “smaller, easier to insert, and cheaper.”
I know a few people are concerned that the G4 transmitter battery lasted six months, whereas the G5 lasts three months. The reason? Bluetooth uses up a lot of energy, so if you want that smartphone capability, three months is the way forward. Dexcom are committed to “new innovation, not [going] backwards” so rest assured that you will get more from your G6 even if you aren’t getting an increased transmitter battery life.
Dexcom’s Global CEO, Kevin Sayer, is very vocal about the the latest updates – I found searching “Kevin Sayer Dexcom” in Google News is the best way to find out what he’s been saying.
What about NHS funding for Dexcom?
Karen said that there is “more funding than you would expect” and told me about a cluster of eight CCG’s in North-West London that have a much simpler process for CGM funding for hypo unaware patients. Dexcom’s seven territory managers are “having conversations on a daily basis” with CCGs about funding Dexcom. I personally know two people who are receiving Dexcom funding in the UK, whereas I know precisely zero people who are receiving Libre funding.
If I haven’t answered any of your questions, please check out my previous blog post about Dexcom, or send me a DM!