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New data on South Auckland diabetes "shocks" meeting

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

New data released at an online public meeting in South Auckland last week shocked the audience, after it was revealed Type 2 Diabetes patients were failing to respond to New Zealand’s treatment regime.

Data presented by Professor David Simmons shows that over the last decade, the prescribed medical treatment has not controlled glucose levels, leading to unnecessary deaths, dialysis, and debilitating health conditions.

Facilitator Dr John Baker, Chair of Diabetes Foundation Aotearoa, said the poor health was due to the three classes of medicines funded by Pharmac, which were over 50 years old.

"Pharmac must immediately change out these ancient drugs and fund the classes which have been standard-of-care for type 2 diabetes in the first world for the past 2-3 years."

"We estimate that for $25 million a year, they would save at least 800 lives, and vastly improve hundreds of others."

The new medicine classes are Metformin XR, first used 2004, SGLT-2 inhibitors, first used 2013, and GLP-1 agonists, first used 2005.

Professor David Simmons cited data that showed there were now more than 253,000 people in New Zealand with diabetes, and that Counties Manukau had the highest proportion of New Zealanders with the disease.

Simmons called for access to be given to SGLT-2 inhibitors and GLP-1 receptor agonists.

"The lack of access to these two medications - something available across the whole of the OECD - I think it’s a national scandal. I remember the Hep C screening scandal, and I think this is comparable to the number of people being harmed because they don’t have access."

Dr Janak de Zoysa also provided data showing that of the 600 patients provided dialysis treatment each year, 50 percent have diabetes.

"Kidney failure is a terrible disease with awful outcomes. The average survival is about three years, and the only effective treatment that will change that is a kidney transplant. But many patients who develop kidney failure cannot access a kidney or are not fit enough to receive a kidney transplant."

"If you are a Maori person your rate of kidney disease is increased by three times, and by five to seven times among Pacific people, and the majority of that is due to diabetes."

Dr de Zoysa showed that if SGLT-2 inhibitors were made available to diabetic patients, it would prevent patients requiring dialysis for a further 15 years. Dr John Baker said he was heartened at the positive response of political party candidates who were invited to the event to respond to the data, but disappointed that the Labour Party did not attend.

"The politicians were shocked by the data, but invigorated in their commitment that we must replace these old drugs."

"But it is not helpful to this cause that the Labour Party wouldn’t attend an event held in South Auckland, about New Zealand’s best-known disease outside coronavirus, affecting 2-3 times more Maori and Pacific Islanders than anyone else."

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