Changes to the NDSS – what does it mean for your patients?

For many years Australians living with diabetes have had access to subsidised NDSS products such as needles, syringes, blood glucose test strips, urine test strips and insulin pump consumables through Diabetes Australia. However from the 1st July changes will be made to where patients can access supplies, as well as who can access them.

We’ve put this practical tip sheet together to help you and your patients navigate the new system.

Restricted access to blood glucose test strips

Those with type 2 diabetes who are not using insulin will now be restricted to an initial six-month supply of subsidised test strips. This follows a review of the independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) into the most effective clinical use of the strips. The report highlights a lack of evidence to show that that self-monitoring of blood glucose levels improves blood glucose control, quality of life or long-term complications in those with type 2 diabetes that don’t use insulin. However the decision has been controversial and is not supported by Diabetes Australia or the Australian Diabetes Educators Association.

Related story: Diabetes organisations speak out against blood glucose testing restrictions

Related story: Restricting glucose strips sends wrong message

Exceptions to the rule

There will be some exceptions. If an individual’s doctor or other authorised health professional believes there is a clinical need for them to continue monitoring, they will be able to authorise additional supplies. This may include those with type 2 who have a change in their diabetes management, those taking certain other medications that can impact BGLs, during an inter-current illness, or women with gestational diabetes. Those who use insulin will continue to have unrestricted access to blood test strips.

Changes to accessibility

NDSS products will no longer be available through Diabetes Australia or state and territory diabetes organisations. This means those with diabetes can no longer access products via the Diabetes Australia shops, the NDSS 1300 number or via the website. Instead they will need to purchase products through their local pharmacy. According to the Department of Health, cost savings from this new supply arrangement will be reinvested into education and support to help people to more effectively manage their diabetes.

No changes to product range or cost

There will be no changes to the range of products available through the NDSS or the cost of these products, for those eligible to access subsidised products.

In a nutshell: Here’s what the changes mean for your patients/clients:

  • Those with type 1 will still have unrestricted access to diabetes supplies including blood glucose test strips, urine ketone test strips, insulin pen needles and syringes and insulin pump consumables. However from 18th June these will no longer be available through Diabetes Australia (either their shop or by phone or online) so those who usually order bulk supplies from Diabetes Australia, will have to get their supplies through their local pharmacy after this date.
  • From 1st July Insulin pump users will no longer be able to obtain pump consumables through Diabetes Australia. As for test strips and needles, these will now only be available through their local community pharmacy. It is advised that they order an extra 2-3 months supply with their next order to cover the transition period.
  • Those with type 2 taking insulin will still have unrestricted access to blood test strips, available for purchase through their local pharmacy.
  • Those with type 2 not taking insulin will be limited to an initial 6 month supply, unless their medical practitioner or other authorised health professional feels there is a clinical need to continue monitoring and authorises additional supplies.
  • Women with gestational diabetes will continue to have unrestricted access to blood test strips for the duration of their pregnancy.
  • Individuals with diabetes who don’t currently purchase NDSS products through a pharmacy are encouraged to find a local community pharmacy to be their regular access point and discuss their NDSS product needs with staff, to help the pharmacy to ensure they have a regular supply of NDSS products. They can search for their nearest access point on the NDSS website

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