Diabetes peak groups welcome funding boost to help people with type 1 diabetes access life-changing technology

Australia’s leading diabetes groups have welcomed a major funding boost that will help up to 37,000 Australians with type 1 diabetes access life-changing diabetes technology.

Minister for Health, the Hon. Greg Hunt MP announced funding of $100 million over four years to help Australians living with type 1 diabetes access glucose monitoring technology. The funding will save eligible people with diabetes up to $7000 per annum.

The additional funding will provide subsidised access to continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) or the FreeStyle Libre flash glucose monitoring system for:

  • People with type 1 diabetes aged 21 years or over who have a concession card and who have high clinical needs such as experiencing recurrent, severe hypoglycemia
  • Women with type 1 diabetes who are actively planning pregnancy, are pregnant or are breastfeeding
  • Children with rare conditions similar to type 1 diabetes like cystic fibrosis-related diabetes or neonatal diabetes.

Continuous glucose monitors are small wearable devices that can sound alarms and send warnings if glucose levels are getting too low or too high. The devices reduce the number of daily finger prick checks.

The FreeStyle Libre flash glucose monitoring system involves a sensor worn on the arm that monitors glucose levels and sends readings to a user’s mobile phone. When a patient passes their phone past the sensor it provides a reading of their glucose levels.

Diabetes Australia Professor Greg Johnson said Diabetes Australia and other leading diabetes groups have been calling for the expansion of access to glucose monitoring technologies for many years and welcomed the announcement of additional funding.

“Continuous glucose monitoring can help prevent or reduce the incredibly serious impact of hypoglycaemia (dangerously low BGLs and potential for loss of consciousness and coma) and also fear and anxiety associated with it,” Professor Johnson said.

“Diabetes Australia, along with our partners in the diabetes community, have been advocating for broader access to glucose monitoring technologies for a number of years.

“Today’s announcement builds on the Federal Government’s existing CGM funding initiative that is already helping thousands of children and young people with type 1 diabetes access the technology.

“We are confident that this initiative will improve the lives and give peace of mind to thousands of Australian with type 1 diabetes.”

Australian Diabetes Society CEO A/Professor Sof Andrikopoulos said there was clear evidence that glucose monitoring technology like CGM or flash monitoring improved quality of life.

“CGM or flash monitoring arms the person with diabetes with all the information to manage the condition and keep glucose levels within their target range,” A/Professor Andrikopoulos said.

“This improves their health in the short-term as well as reducing the long-term likelihood of debilitating and costly complications like limb amputation, kidney disease or heart failure.”

JDRF Australia CEO Mike Wilson said the funding was a smart investment in the health of people with diabetes.

“Research shows it can cost almost $15,000 to treat a severe hypoglycaemic event (low glucose levels) that requires hospitalisation,” Mr Wilson said.

“Access to continuous glucose monitoring or flash monitoring technology helps ensure people with diabetes can stay heathy and avoid severe health events.”

Australian Diabetes Educators Association CEO Dr Joanne Ramadge welcomed the funding for women prior to or during pregnancy.

“Glucose levels can be far more variable during pregnancy which can place women at serious risk of hypo- and hyperglycaemia. Elevated glucose levels can also pose a risk to the developing baby,” Dr Ramadge said.

“Access to CGM or flash will help keep mums and their unborn babies healthy.”

Australasian Paediatric Endocrine Group President Esko Wiltshire said glucose monitoring was one of the most difficult and intrusive parts of living with diabetes and anything that eased the burden on the person with diabetes was very welcome.

“As well as the health benefits, access to glucose monitoring technology will help ease the anxiety and stress that is sometimes associated with living with the condition,” Associate Professor Esko Wiltshire said.