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Expanded medical device coverage for people with diabetes

British Columbians living with diabetes now have access to a key tool to help manage the disease.

It’s Dexcom G6, a continuous glucose monitor that provides regular updates on blood glucose levels throughout the day.

The monitor will be covered through BC PharmaCare.

“Thousands of British Columbians will benefit from coverage of continuous glucose monitors, which will allow patients to stay on top of their glucose levels with an easy, convenient system and will help patients and their health-care providers make better treatment decisions,” said health minister Adrian Dix. 

“We are grateful for the record number of British Columbians who provided input during our review of continuous glucose monitors.”

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One of them is Comox’s Lisa Christensen.

Christensen’s daughter, Lillithe, uses a Dexcom G6 CGM to manage her Type 1 diabetes.  

For several years Christensen has been advocating for the province to make the CGM device the standard of care for all parents who have children living with diabetes. 

Until now, CGM devices have not widely been covered through private insurance or public funding in the province of B.C., leaving many parents to pay thousands of dollars out-of-pocket.

CGMs let people living with diabetes take control of their condition by automatically tracking glucose levels in real time. 

They send regular readings of glucose levels to a device, such as a compatible smartphone or a reader, including push alerts when the patient’s blood glucose levels are outside a defined range. 

This enables patients or their caregivers to take action sooner, and helps protect people by empowering patients, caregivers and clinicians to identify glucose trends and adjust medications, activity and food intake.

With CGMs, a small sensor is attached to the skin on a patient’s abdomen or upper buttock. The Dexcom G6 sensor lasts 10 days before it must be replaced, and the Dexcom G6 transmitter can be used for 90 days.

These devices are expected to benefit almost 20,000 people in B.C. each year in the first three years. 

At list price, it would have cost roughly $100 million over three years to implement coverage for the Dexcom G6 CGM. The province successfully negotiated a discount.

The Dexcom G6 CGM will be a limited-coverage benefit, meaning coverage is available to people with diabetes who meet the special authority criteria. 

For patients with special authority approval, coverage will be provided to people enrolled in Fair PharmaCare and to those with PharmaCare coverage through Plan C (income assistance), Plan F (children in the At Home program) or Plan W (First Nations health benefits).

On average, over 29,000 people are diagnosed with diabetes every year in British Columbia. 

The disease affects the body’s ability to regulate blood glucose levels. 

Complications of poorly controlled diabetes range from acute (e.g., fatigue, ketoacidosis and seizures) to chronic (e.g., nerve and organ damage). 

In Canada, diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death, and the leading cause of blindness, end-stage kidney disease and non-traumatic amputation.

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