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November 13, 2008
For immediate release

Test Strips Now Covered for People With Diabetes Who Use Insulin

Social Services and Seniors

Islanders who use insulin to manage their diabetes will have assistance in covering the cost of their test strips beginning tomorrow, on World Diabetes Day.

Premier Robert Ghiz and Social Services and Seniors Minister Doug Currie announced today that all Islanders who are dependent on insulin will qualify to receive up to 100 test strips per month, with a monthly co-pay of $11.

“We are extremely pleased to fulfil the promise this government made to insulin-dependent Islanders in the Throne Speech,” said Premier Robert Ghiz. “This announcement is a $1.5 million investment in the health of Islanders.”

Nineteen hundred people in Prince Edward Island use insulin and check their blood glucose levels using test strips and monitors. The strips are sold for one dollar each, while the monitors are provided at no charge by manufacturers.

Under the new initiative, people using insulin will be provided with up to three test strips per day, as recommended by the most current medical research, including clinical guidelines recently released by the Canadian Diabetes Association. Additional strips can be purchased by the patient, or the additional cost can be submitted to private health insurance plans. Pharmacists and physicians can give people access to the strips, which are available at all pharmacies in P.E.I.

“My department collaborated with the Canadian Diabetes Association, as well as with pharmacists, seniors groups and diabetes educators, to apply the latest clinical research in creating this new program. We believe it is an important step forward in assisting Islanders who use insulin,” said Social Services and Seniors Minister Doug Currie.

The announcement comes slightly later than expected because the Department of Social Services and Seniors is awaiting one further scientific report from a national panel called COMPUS, or the Canadian Optimal Medication Prescribing and Utilization Service. The report, which was expected in the summer, will review clinical evidence and cost-effective considerations and recommend the optimal frequency with which people who use insulin should test their blood glucose levels. The government of Prince Edward Island may choose to review its test strips policy at a later date to incorporate the panel’s findings.



• Diabetes is a condition in which blood glucose levels are abnormally high because the body doesn’t release or use insulin adequately. Blood glucose levels that are too high can result in damage to many tissues and organs in the body, resulting in such conditions as blindness, kidney failure and nerve damage.

• Diabetes may be managed using a combination of diet, exercise, oral medications and insulin injections. The Department of Health has a Diabetes Program which offers education and advice on preventing and managing diabetes.

• 1900 Islanders are dependent on insulin.

• It is estimated that total direct medical costs related to the treatment of diabetes and its complications (e.g. hospital services, physician services and pharmacy services) cost the P.E.I. health care system approximately $12.5 million per year.

• Home blood glucose testing helps people with diabetes maintain blood glucose levels, helping reduce the risk of developing complications. Patients use test strips in conjunction with a portable electronic meter to accurately measure the amount of glucose in a small sample of blood.

• The Canadian Diabetes Association released new Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Diabetes in Canada earlier this year. The guidelines recommended that people using insulin should test their blood glucose levels at least 3 times per day (more frequently if they experience low or high blood glucose events).

• The Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH) is currently looking at the optimal management of diabetes through its COMPUS (Canadian Optimal Medications Prescribing Utilization Service) program. COMPUS identifies and promotes evidence-based, clinical and cost-effectiveness information on optimal drug prescribing and use and develops strategies, tools and services to encourage the use of this information in decision making among health care providers and consumers.

• Part of the COMPUS review of diabetes will look at the optimal use of home blood glucose testing. This work was expected to be released in the summer and has been delayed.

Media Contact: Stefanie Arduini
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