Knowing who to trust online can be a tricky business – especially when it comes to buying diabetes equipment, writes diabetes educator JESSICA WEISS.
Online shopping can be highly convenient and you may score a bargain, but there is always the risk that what you end up with may not be exactly as described. This can a particular problem when it comes to products and medications to help you manage your diabetes.
Some recent examples we have been hearing about at Diabetes WA, either from people in our programs or people calling through to our Helpline, include glucose monitoring smart watches and online prescription medications (especially semaglutide, also known by its trade name Ozempic).
Glucose monitoring smart watches
The idea of a non-invasive, wearable glucose monitoring device is not new. The first GlucoWatch G2 Biographer was around in the early 2000s before being discontinued in 2007. In 2018 a new K’Watch Glucose watch was launched, measuring glucose via a disposable patch containing microneedles and sensors worn under the watch.
Since then, other types of watches have been released that use infrared or near-infrared light to target the fluid under the skin (called interstitial fluid), and big companies such as Apple and Samsung are rumoured to be looking into this technology. These are intended to be health and fitness watches, measuring glucose among a range of other measurements, and are found readily available online from overseas suppliers.
Some are claiming these watches are the next big thing in diabetes management. We would not be recommending you rush out and try to purchase one just yet! These watches may not prove to be reliable, as skin pigment or tattoos, environmental factors such as light and temperature, or hydration levels can all affect the reading.
Glucose monitoring watches have not yet been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) – meaning that we can’t recommend relying on these results to make decisions around treating low glucose levels or administering insulin.
Online prescription medication: Ozempic
Driven by the global shortage of semaglutide (also known as Ozempic), numerous online retailers have been selling the product, sometimes without a prescription or consultation with a doctor.
The TGA has reported there were several scams surrounding home delivery of the medication or compounding of the product. They caution against purchasing prescription products online as, in some cases, people either received no product at all, or what they received was not semaglutide. The TGA also cautions against purchasing prescription medications without a valid prescription. Not only may the product not be medically suitable, but it is also not legal to do so.
How to avoid the dangers
With all these risks surrounding purchasing products or medications online to help manage diabetes, it can be difficult to filter the fact from the fiction. Here are a couple of simple steps.
- Look for products or medications approved by the TGA
Before a medical device can be approved by the TGA, it must be assessed for risk. As with medications, devices are assessed for safety in addition to quality and how well they work. This includes ongoing batch testing for contaminants, showing how effective the medication or device is, and its quality and safety. Products purchased from overseas will not have been through this rigorous approval process, and may not be of as high quality, or may potentially containing other harmful ingredients or be an incorrect dosage.
- Seek professional advice
It is always important to do your own research as, at the end of the day, you are the only one who knows what will work best for you. But sometimes seeking help from a health professional can save you
time, stress and even money. You can always seek advice from your diabetes educator, community pharmacist or other health professionals regarding new medications or products.