Sunday, March 7, 2010

Nova Scotia limits Pharmacare coverage of blood glucose test strips

Government's decision on Blood Glucose Strips puts the health of Nova Scotians living with diabetes at further risk

HALIFAX, March 2, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - The Nova Scotia government's decision to limit Pharmacare coverage of blood glucose test strips for some diabetes patients places a significant financial and health burden on these Nova Scotians and violates the fundamental principle that patients and their healthcare professionals should be able to determine how to manage treatment.

"This appears to be an attempt by the government to find cost-savings without proper consideration of patients' safety," said Dr. Vincent Woo, Chair, Clinical and Scientific Section, Canadian Diabetes Association. "This will directly lead to increased healthcare costs for the province as the capacity of Nova Scotians to manage this serious disease is reduced. This move is not compatible with the Canadian Diabetes Association's Clinical Practice Guidelines and other international guidelines which specifically recommend that testing protocols be determined by patients in conjunction with their own healthcare professionals."

Dr. Woo was commenting on a recent decision of the Nova Scotia government to limit pharmacare coverage of blood glucose test strips for people living with diabetes who do not use insulin, to a maximum of 100 strips annually. On average Nova Scotians who do not use insulin use 300-400 strips annually.

The government based its decision on a flawed report issued by the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH). The Agency has already admitted that its conclusions regarding the effectiveness of blood glucose monitoring should not necessarily apply to all groups of Canadians who do not use insulin to manage their diabetes. Given this fact, the Association does not believe it is at all appropriate for the government to be using this report to restrict access to supplies for these Nova Scotians.

"It is critical that the government put off implementing this decision until further consultation with the diabetes community," said Lisa Matte, Regional Director, Canadian Diabetes Association in Nova Scotia. "If this measure is put in place, there will be serious health complications for thousands of Nova Scotians."

Across the country, the Canadian Diabetes Association is leading the fight against diabetes by helping people with diabetes live healthy lives while we work to find a cure. We are supported in our efforts by a community-based network of volunteers, employees, healthcare professionals, researchers and partners. By providing education and services, advocating on behalf of people with diabetes, supporting research and translating research into practical applications - we are delivering on our mission. For more information, please visit or call 1-800-BANTING (226-8464)

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