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PHARMAC targets high cost of diabetes test strips

PHARMAC targets high cost of diabetes test strips

The high cost of diabetes monitoring is being targeted by PHARMAC with a decision to reference price blood glucose test strips.

PHARMAC has reached an agreement with Bayer Diagnostics to continue fully funding its brand of test strips (Ascensia Glucodisc) in return for a 3 percent price reduction, and all other brands of test strips will be reference priced to this level. Bayer's brand was previously called Glucometer Esprit but the name has been changed to Ascensia Glucodisc.

Testing strips are used by people with diabetes to monitor their blood glucose levels, and currently account for more than $18 million per year of the pharmaceutical budget.

The agreement with Bayer includes a price reduction, but despite this reduction PHARMAC Chief Executive Wayne McNee says New Zealand will still be paying 15 to 18 percent more for testing strips than Australia.

“Reference pricing will produce a saving of $2.5 million over five years, and this is necessary to allow District Health Boards to meet their budgetary targets and to allow PHARMAC the possibility to reinvest in more medicines,” Wayne McNee says.

“However we remain concerned at the level of expenditure in this area, which is caused by both comparatively high prices and possible overuse of the test strips in type 2 diabetes.”

PHARMAC will undertake a review of its spending in this area later this year.

Following the implementation of reference pricing people with diabetes will have a number of options to enable them to choose their testing strips.

continue to use their current brand of test strips and pay the small manufacturer’s surcharge (about $1.67 for a pack of 50) when they have a prescription dispensed at a pharmacy have the prescription filled through a Diabetes NZ mail order service and not pay the manufacturer’s surcharge. Details of this service are available from Diabetes New Zealand (freephone 0800 DIABETES) change to the fully funded test strips and purchase a new meter.

The decision for testing strips takes effect from 1 March 2003.

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