Increased patient access to continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) devices will start on 1 March 2020, with the addition of the Freestyle Libre Flash for people with type 1 diabetes and the removal of high clinical need criteria for adults with concession cards.
FreeStyle Libre sensors will be available to all people who are eligible to access products through the CGM Initiative. This includes:
- Children and young people aged under 21 years with type 1 diabetes;
- Women with type 1 diabetes who are actively planning pregnancy, pregnant, or immediately post pregnancy;
- Children and young people under 21 years with conditions very similar to type 1 diabetes who require insulin; and
- People with type 1 diabetes, aged 21 years or older, who have a valid concessional status.
As well, revised clinical criteria for the CGM Initiative will remove the need for patients over 21 with valid concession cards to show evidence of a hypoglycaemic event in the last 12 months that required third party assistance.
Associate Professor Sof Andrikopoulos from the Australian Diabetes Society welcomed the changes, saying this will allow clinicians to provide tailored treatment to people with T1D using the patterns obtained from data downloaded from their self monitoring devices.
“You can have the conversation with the patient and say, ‘Well, what resulted in this really high spiking of blood glucose? Let’s talk about that. Is it because you’re eating the wrong foods, or is it because you were too stressed, or you did something that made your blood glucose levels rise or fall?’ “
“By having that discussion, by having that information in front of you and having that discussion with a patient, you are then able to ensure that the patient manages the blood glucose levels, or their diabetes a lot more effectively,” he said.
A/Prof Andrikopolous said the devices will make it much easier for patients to manage their blood glucose, by reducing the burden of monitoring and improving their quality of life.
He said recent studies had shown the devices help improve time in range, which may not necessarily be reflected in a reduction in HbA1c.
“At the end of the day it’s not all about the HbA1c level. [Use of these devices] provides peace of mind, so the way that the person feels wearing this device, makes them feel more in control, makes them feel that they’re able to understand their disease more effectively,” he said.
The new subsidies means about 50% of Australians with type 1 diabetes – 58,000 people – will have free access to CGM devices.
Associate Professor Shane Hamblin from the Endocrine Society of Australia told the limbic this is cause for celebration, but he would like to see diabetes funding extended in Australia.
“Even though we’re positive about the outcomes and all the rest, it’s still such a nuisance of a disease that we should really be offering this technology to everyone with type 1 diabetes,” he said.
“We have quite a few patients who are the working poor. They’ve got a family, they’ve got a mortgage, and they just can’t afford the technology. So hopefully the next advance will be that they will also be included in at least a subsidy.”
Australian Diabetes Educators Association (ADEA) CEO Susan Davidson said that providing wider access to CGM devices was a wise investment.
“Treating severe hypoglycaemia can cost the health system almost $15,000 if the person requires hospitalisation. Giving people the tools they need to effectively self-manage diabetes helps people stay healthy and out of hospital,” she said.