58,000 people with diabetes to access free diabetes monitoring technology

58,000 Australians with type 1 diabetes will be able to access the Freestyle Libre Flash glucose monitoring system, Health Minister Greg Hunt announced today.

The Government also announced it will streamline eligibility for the Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) Initiative, part of the National Diabetes Services Scheme, making it easier for more people to access life-changing diabetes monitoring technology.

From 1 March 2020 the clinical criteria for the CGM initiative will be simplified allowing people with type 1 diabetes aged over 21 who have a valid concession card to access free, life changing glucose monitoring devices.

Diabetes Australia CEO Professor Greg Johnson welcomed Freestyle Libre’s inclusion on the CGM Initiative and the streamlining of eligibility criteria as important steps to help ensure people who need this life changing technology can access it.

“In the past three years we have seen the number of people with type 1 diabetes able to access life-changing glucose monitoring technology grow considerably,” Professor Johnson said.

“Today’s announcement means that around 50 per cent of all people with type 1 diabetes in Australia will now have free access to this technology."

Continuous and Flash glucose monitors are small wearable devices that monitor glucose levels automatically, providing readings every few minutes. People with diabetes can see their glucose levels using apps on their smart phones.

Both continuous and Flash glucose monitoring devices reduce the need for finger prick checks and give a lot more information to the person with type 1 diabetes and their healthcare team about glucose trends and “time on range” for glucose levels.

“Previously, people had to meet a high risk or high need criteria which was difficult for some people. The new process is much more straightforward and has removed this administrative burden for eligible people with type 1 diabetes. If you have a valid concession card you can get access,” Professor Johnson said.

Australian Diabetes Society CEO A/Professor Sof Andrikopoulos said the potential health benefits of using glucose monitoring technology are clear.

“Continuous and Flash glucose monitoring can help prevent or reduce the very serious impact of hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose) which has the potential to lead to unconsciousness and coma as well as reducing the fear and anxiety associated with hypoglycaemia which is a constant, stressful fact of life for many people with type 1 diabetes and their families,” he said.

“There is also clear evidence showing that continuous and Flash glucose monitoring can support better long-term health outcomes by helping people to keep their glucose levels “in range” and reducing the risk of diabetes-related complications.”

JDRF Australia CEO Mike Wilson said the technology could help ease the daily burden of living with type 1 diabetes.

“Continuous and Flash glucose monitoring can reduce the need for frequent finger prick checks of blood glucose levels which means people with type 1 diabetes can spend less time thinking about managing diabetes and more time doing the things they love. We shouldn’t underestimate how significant the quality-of-life benefits can be in addition to the already proven clinical benefits,” Mr Wilson said.

Australian Diabetes Educators Association CEO Susan Davidson lauded the decision as a smart investment.

“Treating severe hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose levels) can cost the health system almost $15,000 if the person requires hospitalization. Giving people the tools they need to effectively self-manage diabetes helps people stay healthy and out of hospital,” Ms Davidson said.

Australasian Paediatric Endocrine Group President Dr Helen Woodhead said CGM and Flash could help many parents and children better manage diabetes.

“CGM and Flash can ease the burden of blood glucose monitoring for parents and help children enjoy more normal childhoods. Some children will really benefit from flash glucose monitoring so it is great families will now have more choice,” Dr Woodhead said.

Professor Johnson said Diabetes Australia and its alliance partners would continue to work with Government to increase affordable access to diabetes technologies that can change and save lives.

“We welcome today’s announcement as another critical step in the journey to ensure more people with diabetes can access life changing diabetes monitoring and management technology,” Professor Johnson.

“But we’re not done yet! We will continue working with Government towards our goal that every person with type 1 diabetes, or other diabetes, who needs access to these technologies can access them. It’s a continually changing world with new devices, upgrades, and connectivity all developing rapidly.

"Diabetes Australia will continue to work with the Government and across the diabetes sector, the ADS, the ADEA, APEG and JDRF Australia and others to advocate for affordable and easy access to life changing technology and treatments.”

A summary of the new access from 1 March 2020 is:

Children and young people aged under 21 years with type 1 diabetes.

  • Women with type 1 diabetes who are planning for pregnancy, pregnant, or immediately post pregnancy.
  • Children and young people with conditions very similar to type 1 diabetes, such as cystic fibrosis-related diabetes and neonatal diabetes, who require insulin.
  • People with type 1 diabetes aged 21 years or older and who have concessional status.