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Dr. Bill's Commentaries

Should you buy an insulin pump from a previous user?   (June 26, 2007)

I noticed recently that a Web site I was visiting had an area for comments, and noticed that some readers were selling insulin pumps. The writers indicated that they had acquired newer pumps, and the older ones were in pristine condition. For just a brief moment, it was tempting to consider contacting the writers, as I plan to switch to an insulin pump myself (sooner or later), and the quoted prices were less than I'd expect my co-pay might be when I do get a pump through official channels.

But, then I stopped and thought: "Wait a minute." What if the device were broken or otherwise a problem, despite the glowing assurances? Would the manufacturer's warranty be valid? Since I was at the American Diabetes Association meeting, it was easy enough to walk over to the exhibitors’ area, and find the booths where the pump-makers were extolling their wares. So I did. As I talked over the situation with the representatives, here's what I learned:

  1. Anyone buying a pump from another pumper will not have the warranty honored.
  2. There's no way to validate the story that people describe as to why they are selling a pump -- and it might even be non-working (if so, see item 1 above!)
  3. People buying such pumps will not be warned of recalls nor notified of upgrades.
  4. People selling such pumps may actually be doing something illegal, as they do not have the authority to sell prescription merchandise.
  5. Some pump companies might sell the person the needed pump supplies, if the person can get their physician to sign off on a prescription for the supplies.
  6. And finally, it's uncertain if anyone will be willing to train you on such a pump -- clearly, the pump companies aren't interested.

So, if you see a notice that someone's selling an insulin pump, and are tempted to respond, remember the old statement: let the buyer beware!

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Dr. Bill Quick began writing at HealthCentral's diabetes website in November, 2006. These essays are reproduced at D-is-for-Diabetes with the permission of HealthCentral.

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