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News & Trends - MedTech & Diagnostics

J&J MedTech, Medtronic, MTAA and Insulet voice crucial roadblocks at diabetes inquiry hearing

Health Industry Hub | March 25, 2024 |

MedTech & Diagnostics News: The Health, Aged Care and Sport Committee held a public hearing at Parliament House on Friday as part of its inquiry into diabetes. The Committee welcomed representatives from the Medical Technology Association of Australia (MTAA), Medtronic, Johnson and Johnson MedTech and Insulet.

Paul Dale, Policy Director of MTAA, emphasised the significant shift in diabetes care over the past two decades.

“In large part, this is attributed to advancements in medical technology,” he stated. “Control of diabetes using personalised patient devices, artificial intelligence and remote monitoring offers a window into the future management and prevention for all chronic diseases.”

He added “Despite these incredible achievements, the sad reality is that diabetes remains one of this country’s leading killers. That is because whilst the pace of innovation in diabetes care remains nothing short of remarkable, access to this innovation is slowing and becoming more unequal.”

Echoing these sentiments, Liz Carnabuci, Vice President & Managing Director, Medtronic Australia & New Zealand, highlighted the transformative potential of automatic insulin delivery (AID) systems, also known as closed-loop systems or artificial pancreas.

“The evolution of AID systems marks the new frontier of diabetes management, delivering better outcomes, greater freedoms and fewer burdens for patients with type I diabetes. Yet, AID is not funded in Australia,” remarked Ms Carnabuci.

She continued “Whilst the recent Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) expansion is commended and the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) provides a subsidy for insulin pump consumables, access to insulin pumps is only available to patients with the highest level of private health insurance. This leaves many individuals with type one diabetes unable to access crucial technologies necessary for achieving optimal clinical outcomes.”

In addressing queries regarding the higher cost of closed-loop systems in Australia compared to other countries, Ms Carnabuci highlighted the multifaceted nature of cost considerations including the variety of devices, the level of support and training, stressing the importance of evaluating the investment “in terms of an entire system cost”.

Highlighting the disparity in funding and capacity for bariatric surgery, where over 90% of all bariatric surgeries are performed in the private sector, Ms Carnabuci recommended a more collaborative approach between the Commonwealth, states, territories, and clinical societies to address the barriers to equitable access to bariatric surgery in the pubic healthcare system.

Daniel Kildea, Director of Government Affairs and Policy at J&J MedTech, also drew attention to the critical role of bariatric surgery in addressing obesity and type two diabetes. He cited statistics from the latest Bariatric Surgery Registry report where 70% of Australian patients no longer needed insulin for diabetes one year after surgery.

“People who can’t afford the top private health insurance cover and can’t afford to fund their own surgery are more likely to be living with obesity and type two diabetes. Bariatric surgery should be a genuine treatment option for people with clinically severe obesity and diabetes. It needs to be more accessible in the public health system and available to patients regardless of their wealth or income status,” he asserted.

In addressing questions from the Committee regarding the HTA Review, it was underscored as “disappointing” due to the lack of involvement and engagement with the medtech sector, despite the companies closely monitoring the outcomes of the reforms. Additionally, the absence of reimbursement pathways for digital health was brought to attention.

“Digital health warrants to have a further look and we would have liked to have seen that more specifically addressed,” Mr Kildea noted.

Sharing a compelling parent journey, Joe Sader, General Manager of Insulet, emphasised the life-saving potential of advanced insulin delivery systems.

“Significant inequity and policy inconsistencies limit choice and access to cost effective diabetes technologies. Australia lags behind countries like the UK, Germany and the USA, where there is broad access to insulin pumps. Timely reimbursement systems and access pathways need to be future-proof, flexible and responsive to fast moving technologies so that mums like Karen do not need to fly to America to access life-changing technology,” she emphasised.

Throughout the hearing, stakeholders voiced concerns over the reimbursement frameworks governing medical technology. While acknowledging the thoroughness of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) process, stakeholders called for streamlined pathways to expedite the reimbursement of innovative health technologies to optimise diabetes management.

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