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PHARMAC decision both good and bad

8th August 2012

PHARMAC decision both good and bad

Diabetes New Zealand is disappointed PHARMAC has decided to stick with its proposal to introduce a largely sole supply model for test strips and blood glucose meters.

Earlier this year PHARMAC released two proposals, the first relating to the introduction of a sole supply model for test strips and meters, and the second to funding insulin pumps.

“While we welcome the funding of insulin pumps as an important step forward, we are disappointed that PHARMAC has remained committed to a sole supply model for meters and test strips” says Chris Baty, Diabetes New Zealand President.

“A sole supply model introduces untenable risks for people with diabetes, including potential supply chain disruption that may come from relying on only one source for product.”

“People with diabetes are dependent on test strips and meters for knowledge of their blood glucose levels. Knowing these levels is crucial for managing one’s diabetes on an hour by hour basis. A sole supply model adds a new level of vulnerability to the existing burden of living with diabetes.”

“However, we acknowledge that PHARMAC has taken onboard some of the concerns raised during consultation, and that these concerns have been reflected in their decision.”

In particular Diabetes New Zealand welcomes PHARMAC’s decision to fund a higher-tech meter with more functionality e.g. backlighting and greater memory function, and to fund other meters for two groups of people:

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• People who are using the Accu-Chek Performa Combo meter with an Accu-Chek Combo Insulin pump prior to 1 June 2012 can still have their Accu-chek test strips funded for the next 5 years.
• As above, for people using the Freestyle Optium as their only meter for both blood glucose and ketone testing.

The significance of these proposals, which were first circulated for consultation by PHARMAC back in February, has caused a great deal of unnecessary stress to many people with diabetes, especially the proposal relating to blood glucose meters. While today’s announcement will bring an end to the uncertainty, Diabetes New Zealand is critical of the approach PHARMAC took to the whole process, specifically its lack of due regard for the special needs of people using these devices and the information they needed to receive about the proposed changes.

“We believe a lack of attention to process (including a short consultation period and not consulting with relevant organisations before finalising the proposals) created an enormous amount of stress unnecessarily. We believe many of the issues that have caused great distress for people with diabetes could have been avoided if PHARMAC had followed a better process. We hope PHARMAC takes onboard lessons from this experience.”

“Our focus now is on limiting the impact of this change on people with diabetes and ensuring the implementation is thorough and meets all needs. We welcome further discussions with PHARMAC about how this can be done.”

Diabetes figures:
• Over 208,000 people in New Zealand have diabetes.
• On average 50 more people are diagnosed with the condition every day.
• In less than a decade not only will nearly 400,000 Kiwis have diabetes, it will cost our country over $1 billion each year in health costs alone.

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