Pharmac diabetes products decision soon

1 July 2012

A decision on controversial proposals by Pharmac to move to a single supplier of diabetes testing systems is expected this month.

The proposal to save $10 million by only subsidising a sole supplier of blood glucose testing strips and meters prompted a strong backlash and 3000 submissions to Pharmac from people with diabetes and health professionals.

After receiving feedback at community meetings and written submissions, Pharmac said the earliest a decision would be made was July on the testing products and on a separate proposal on funding insulin pumps.

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation submission said nurses were unanimous in their rejection of a sole supply of diagnostic test trips and meters for the about 120,000 diabetic consumers.

“Nurses know from experience and observation that changes to the everyday tools used to manage diabetes are destabilising, reduce monitoring of blood glucose levels, and consequently, have a negative impact on health.”

The submission expresses concerns about the appropriateness and limited features of the proposed sole supplier CareSens range. It also raises concerns about the risk of changing everyday tools for people with diabetes and the considerable time and resourcing needed to re-educate the whole diabetic population to use the range.

It says the move would “undoubtedly seriously disadvantage” patients with Type 1 diabetes requiring another brand of test strips to use with their current insulin pumps or those required to monitor blood ketones, which are not covered by the CareSens range.

Pharmac has said the concerns raised in the public meetings and submissions – including the reduction in choice, concerns about the features of the proposed meters and strips, and the need for training and support – would be carefully worked through before a decision was made.