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Enhanced Access To Diabetes Treatments

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Enhanced Access To Diabetes Treatments

People with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are set to benefit from recent decisions by Government drug funder PHARMAC.

The moves include providing greater access to some medicines and diabetes management products, and funding new medicine. These are:

Widening access to the long-acting insulin glargine (Lantus); Funding a new rapid-acting insulin glulisine (Apidra); Widening access to blood ketones testing strips (Optium); and Widening access to the diabetes treatment acarbose (Glucobay).

PHARMAC medical director Dr Peter Moodie says the opening of access to insulin glargine is the most significant of these decisions. It comes as part of a new agreement between PHARMAC and Sanofi Aventis that includes four products, two of which will be newly-subsidised.

Insulin glargine, insulin glulisine

Insulin glargine, first funded in 2006 for Type 1 diabetes patients, has had its Special Authority restriction removed, meaning it can now be used by people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Insulin glargine usually only needs to be injected once a day by people requiring regular injections of insulin, so is more convenient for those people.

In addition, a new rapid-acting insulin, insulin glulisine (Apidra), will be funded to provide a further treatment option for people with diabetes. Insulin glulisine will have no access restrictions, meaning it can be used by anyone requiring short acting insulin injections. Insulin glulisine will also be supplied in pre-filled cartridges similar to the same device available for insulin glargine.

The other products in the agreement with Sanofi Aventis are hydrocortisone with cinchocaine (Proctosedyl), a treatment for haemorrhoids, and a price reduction on the dermatology treatment povidone (Betadine).

"Injected insulin is literally a life-saver for people with Type 1 diabetes, and there's a growing need for insulin for some Type 2 diabetes patients," Dr Moodie says. "Injections can be painful and inconvenient, so people needing insulin can prefer to have the once-daily treatments that long-acting preparations provide."

PHARMAC estimates that nearly 10,000 people will be using insulin glargine within three years, with a further 2,500 on insulin glulisine.

"The growth in patient numbers reflects both the widening of access and the preference for this type of long-acting product over others'", says Dr Moodie.

The agreement contains rebates that reduce the price paid for insulin glargine although the details of these remain confidential.

Most aspects of the agreement have been put in place from 1 August. However, one of the dosage strengths of insulin glulisine will be funded from 1 September.

Blood ketone testing strips

First listed last year, restrictions are now being lifted on blood ketone test strips. Both blood and urine testing strips are funded, however the advantage blood ketone strips is that they can detect diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) earlier. DKA is a potentially life-threatening complication in patients with diabetes mellitus, resulting from an absolute shortage of insulin. Urine testing strips will also continue to be funded.


And widening of access to the oral hypoglycaemic agent acarbose gives greater treatment options, particularly in Type 2 diabetes patients who are intolerant of metformin Acarbose will be available without any access restrictions from 1 September 2010.

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