Pharmac has not ruled out funding equipment for type one diabetics while groups like Diabetes New Zealand say the country is already facing a crisis.
Earlier this year Diabetes New Zealand called on the government agency to fund continuous glucose monitors and flash glucose monitors.
“This equipment shouldn’t be treated as a luxury. The technology to live a normal, healthy life is there, but Kiwis aren’t given access to it,” says Diabetes NZ chief executive Heather Verry.
Pharmac independently decides which medicines and related products to fund.
Chief executive Sarah Fitt told Stuff last month monitors remained an “option for investment.”
Pharmac’s own Pharmacology and Therapeutics Advisory subcommittee has recommended the Dexcom G6 continuous glucose monitoring system should be listed as a high priority on the pharmaceutical schedule.
The agency already funds an insulin pump under stringent conditions.
They can be remotely controlled but the technology to control the pumps is not funded.
Nightscout also wants more funding for rapid-acting insulin.
The demand on primary and secondary health care – such as from hypoglycaemic episodes – would diminish if Pharmac increased funding, says Waipā District Council chief executive Garry Dyet.
Hypoglycaemic episodes occur when blood glucose levels fall to potentially dangerous levels resulting in seizures, convulsions and in more serious cases, strokes. It is common for people to be admitted to hospital.
Dyet met Waikato University social scientist Hamish Crocket, MetOcean scientific systems engineer Tim Gunn and Paralymypics New Zealand Waikato cycling hub coach Damian Wiseman through a Diabetes Waikato technology group about five years ago when each was looking to create their own automated insulin delivery system or an artificial pancreas.
The system combines an insulin pump, continuous glucose monitors and an algorithm – a what if scenario – that automatically adjusts insulin delivery every five minutes.
Gunn is the technology whizz who helped create the do it yourself artificial pancreas system via open-source software on watches and mobile phones.
Not “chasing insulin” whilst exercising means far less need for excessive carbohydrate consumption, and improved performance, said Dyet.
“For now it’s the best form of control for those who want to invest the time and energy.”
#We are not waiting
In the USA, a #WeAreNotWaiting worldwide movement to reduce the burden of type one diabetes was already set up and advocating for the technology, so the men and other type one diabetics rolled the hashtag movement into New Zealand.
It aims to make open source software innovations freely available for type one diabetics. Diabetics like Gunn developed their own technology and freely shared it so other diabetics could evaluate it and choose to use it themselves.
A ground-breaking Health Research Council of New Zealand-funded study called Create (community derived automated insulin delivery) is about to be published internationally and is expected to add research weight to type one diabetics’ arguments for more Pharmac funding.
Crocket is part of the Create trial study team which undertook a randomised controlled trial of an open-source, community-built algorithm for automated insulin delivery.
Diabetes is considered a disability and people living with it can receive a disability allowance while caregivers can receive a Child Disability Allowance for children under 18.