COVID-19 - Diabetes Medicines and Products

Automatic six month extension for access to Blood Glucose Monitoring Strips (BGTS) through the National Diabetes Services Scheme

To make it easier for people with type 2 diabetes during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian Government is suspending the requirement for a Blood Glucose Test Strip (BGTS) Six Month Approval form to be completed by your doctor or credentialled diabetes educator (CDE).

Effective from 3 April 2020, an automatic six-month extension will be provided for all people with type 2 diabetes not using insulin.

This means people with type 2 diabetes who do not use insulin will not need to have a form completed by a health professional to receive subsidised access to BGTS. People will need to simply visit their local pharmacy (NDSS Access Point) the next time they need to access BGTS. Note: people may be able to avoid a visit and should ask their pharmacy if they can deliver the BGTS along with their medicines to their home.

People with diabetes are still encouraged to contact their doctor or CDE to discuss blood glucose monitoring and any changes to their diabetes management they may need during COVID-19. Health professionals including GPs and CDEs are offering telephone and online appointments for people with diabetes during this period.

This is a temporary arrangement during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Signing of NDSS forms – temporary change

To make things easier during the COVID-19 pandemic, people with diabetes will no longer need to sign some NDSS forms to access services and diabetes products.

Health professionals will be able to complete forms without the need for co-signing by the person with diabetes. This temporary change will include:

  • NDSS Registration form
  • Medication Change form
  • Continuous and Flash Glucose Monitoring Eligibility Assessment forms
  • Insulin Pump Consumable Assessment form

In addition, the requirement for a Blood Glucose Test Strip (BGTS) Six Month Approval form to be completed has been temporarily suspended. This means people with type 2 diabetes who do not use insulin will not need to have a form completed by a health professional to receive subsidised access to BGTS through the NDSS.

The only NDSS form that people with diabetes will be required to sign is the Personal Details Update form which is needed if a person is changing their name. Supporting documents will also need to be provided.

This is a temporary arrangement during the COVID-19 pandemic designed to make things easier for people with diabetes.

You can access all forms here.

Home delivery of medicines and NDSS products by pharmacies

Medicine home delivery services are now available to help vulnerable people stay at home and reduce their exposure to COVID-19.

Participating pharmacies can offer customers with diabetes free delivery of medicines using the Australia Post Express Post network. There is a weight limit for parcels of 500 grams.

Vulnerable Australians, including people over 70 and people with chronic health conditions such as diabetes are eligible for the service.

For people with diabetes, participating pharmacies may be able to add your NDSS products to your home delivery of medicines.

Check with your local community pharmacy to see if they are offering this service.

Diabetes Australia thanks community pharmacists and Australia Post for supporting this service during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, please visit Australia Post.

For information about home delivery of medicines, please download this fact sheet from the Department of Health.

Important message on ACE Inhibitors

An important message for people with diabetes taking ACE inhibitors.

There has been some media speculation that ACE inhibitors may worsen the symptoms of COVID-19.

There have been no clinical studies that show this.

You should never change your medications without consulting your diabetes healthcare team.

ACE inhibitors are commonly prescribed to people with diabetes to help high blood pressure.

The most commonly prescribed ACE inhibitor in Australia is Perindropil.

If you have concerns about your medications please talk to your healthcare team.

Availability of medicines and products

The Department of Health has advised Diabetes Australia that there are no current national shortages or supply issues with insulin, diabetes medicines or NDSS products. People with diabetes are advised to order and obtain your diabetes medicines and supplies as usual. There is no need to stockpile.

We understand many pharmacies are now limiting medications, including insulin, to a one-month supply to help manage the high demand that has lead to some short term local out-of-stock situations in some pharmacies.

We are aware that this one-month supply restriction is causing confusion. Some people are concerned that that they will not receive the full amount of their prescription (i.e. 5 vials or 5 boxes of flexpens or ‘penfills’).

One month’s supply of insulin will be a different amount for each person. Most insulin prescriptions do not indicate a daily dose as dosages can vary from day to day and week to week. Read more about the limits on insulin prescriptions here.

In recent weeks there have been very high orders for NDSS products, and some people have ordered more product than they would normally need. This has resulted in some short term local out-of-stock situations in some pharmacies.

As a temporary measure, there will be some restrictions on the amount of NDSS products people can order including blood glucose monitoring strips, urine monitoring strips, pen needles, syringes and insulin pump consumables. For the vast majority of people with diabetes, these limits represent well over one month's supply. Read more here.

Blood ketone strips

We are aware some people may be experiencing concern or anxiety about accessing ketone strips. Please be reassured the NDSS is working with Abbott to ensure the ongoing availability of ketone strips.

Diabetes Australia has also been working with the Pharmacy Guild to encourage pharmacists to keep the strips behind the counter to help monitor who is accessing the strips.

Abbott has advised us that they are continuing to monitor sales and has released additional into the supply chain to help resolve local shortages.

If you are having difficulty accessing blood ketone strips please contact Abbott on 1800 801 478.

If you are still feeling concerned or anxious, please contact our helpline on 1800 637 700 for advice and support.

Updated: 9 April 2020

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