The other day, I went to a local pharmacy to buy some pump lines. There is one pharmacy in my neighbourhood that usually has insulin pump consumables on the shelf, so I don’t need to order them in. I just pop in when it’s time to top up my supplies and get what I need. I asked for a box of the lines I use. ‘There are two on the shelf,’ said the sales assistant. ‘Do you want both? You probably should stock up.’

‘No thanks,’ I said to her. I only ever buy one box at a time, usually when I am down to my last three or four lines. With the new box, I would easily have a six to eight-week supply.

‘Oh,’ I said to her. ‘You really don’t need to encourage people to buy more than their usual order. We don’t have shortages – that has been confirmed by Diabetes Australia and the Department of Health. Suggesting people stockpile is not a good idea at all.’

Are you stockpiling, or thinking about it? If so, I’m ask you to please reconsider.

I get that these are confusing and stressful times. I haven’t seen a roll of loo paper on the shelves at my local Woolies for weeks now. Other pantry staples are in high demand. And since the weekend, fresh fruit and meat sections have been almost stripped bare. Despite being told that we don’t need to panic buy, we’re seeing this behaviour and it is causing a great deal of distress to a huge number of people.

The last thing we need is for there to be the same situation when it comes to diabetes meds and supplies.

Here’s the deal: we are okay. There are no shortages. We don’t need to panic and stress. That has come directly from the Department of Health who has oversight of all drugs and NDSS supplies. It has also been communicated from Diabetes Australia*.

Where things have the potential to go the way of loo paper is if people suddenly start changing their buying behaviours. Then we have problems.

Think about it this way: before coronavirus, when was the last time you couldn’t find loo paper if you needed it? Never, right? And now, because there was some weird idea that toilet rolls were going to run out, people bought packs and packs of it. I know people who have hundreds of rolls of loo paper stocked up in their houses at the moment. I also know people who have been down to their last roll and are desperately trying to find kindly neighbours who will happily and readily spare a square (or two).

This is what happens when people change their buying behaviour and we really don’t want that to happen with diabetes medications and supplies.


Be sensible! And don’t change from what you usually do.

What is your usual buying pattern? For me, I have always called in my insulin prescription when I open my second to last vial of insulin. That has been my pattern for years.

I buy pump consumables when I am down to the last few of each. A box of lines lasts me around six weeks; cannulas longer because I tend to reuse them a couple of times. I top up blood glucose strips when I’m down to half a box. (A box lasts me forever because I really only use them to calibrate, and I am rather lax at that).

The only, only thing I have a ridiculous stockpile of is lancets. Because: who changes lancets? And the only reason I have that stockpile is because every new meter comes with about ten of them. Plus, I think I still have the same box I bought 22 years ago at diagnosis…

I am making no changes to my buying pattern and behaviour and I would urge everyone to do the same. If people just keep on keeping on, we will not have shortages. If people start to make changes and panic buy, we could be in situation loo paper.


We do have limits on our NDSS usage. I know I rarely think about this, because I never reach mine. I remember needing a special exemption when I was pregnant because I was doing a heap more BGL checks each day, but other than during that time, I have never needed to worry about getting to my limit.

ALL drugs and diabetes supplies have ‘use-by’ dates. The shelf life on some items (such as sensors) is shorter that on others. If you stockpile, there is a good chance that what you have hoarded will be out of date by the time you get through your supply. That will mean that when you eventually go to use them, they are not covered if something goes wrong (such as sensors not lasting their full time etc).

Also, if you reach your limit, that could mean that you are no longer able to access subsidised product, and you may be required to pay the full amount for them. For those of us who remember the days before pump consumables were on the NDSS, it suddenly makes running a pump VERY expensive…


When I left the second box of lines of the shelf at my pharmacy last week, I did that knowing it was likely that someone else would be in soon after needing the same lines. If you order two or three times more than usual, someone downstream is going to potentially have trouble accessing what they need when they need it.

Some people can only afford their diabetes supplies on pay day, or when they are running really low on supplies. They rely on being able to access things WHEN they need them and cannot stock up beforehand. Please be considerate of people in all situations.

If we all are sensible about this, we can completely avoid supply problems.


Contact the NDSS (1800 637 700) with every single detail of what is going on in your situation. Provide details of the access point (usually a pharmacy) that has not been able to provide you with what you need. How long has this been the case? What are you trying to purchase? Have you tried somewhere else locally? (Remember that most pharmacies do not keep insulin or NDSS products in stock and they need to be ordered in.)

Also, please, please, please do not engage in online speculation of shortages online. This is what causes panic! If you have a personal experience, contact the NDSS!


  1. Keep washing your hands!
  2. IF YOU ARE STOCKPILING LANCETS, STOP IT. STOP IT NOW!! You KNOW you will never use them! And no one else will either, so they will haunt and mock you from your diabetes supplies cupboard/drawer for the rest of your days.


Yes, I work for Diabetes Australia, however I am not writing this because of that and have not been asked by anyone at Diabetes Australia or the NDSS to write this.

 I am writing it because I am a person with diabetes who does not want to find herself struggling to access the meds and supplies that I need to stay alive, nor do I want any of my diabetes brothers or sisters to find themselves in the same situation.

No need to stockpile lancets. Or anything else!