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News & Trends - MedTech & Diagnostics

‘The time for bold action is now’: Key recommendations unveiled in landmark diabetes inquiry report

Health Industry Hub | July 4, 2024 |

The Health, Aged Care, and Sport Committee unveiled a pivotal report yesterday, featuring twenty-three recommendations from its landmark Inquiry into Diabetes. Chaired by Dr Mike Freelander MP, alongside Deputy Chairs Melissa McIntosh MP and Julian Leeser MP, the committee received over 450 submissions.

Justine Cain, CEO of Diabetes Australia Group, emphasised the report’s significance, stating, “The Parliamentary Inquiry into Diabetes has shone a light on Australia’s diabetes epidemic. This report includes a comprehensive package of measures that can really make a difference, and we need to see them implemented together. There is no single solution; we need strong action on all fronts.”

With approximately 2 million Australians living with diabetes, the committee’s recommendations outline a roadmap for diabetes prevention and management. According to a Diabetes Australia report, diabetes imposes a $3.4 billion annual burden on the healthcare system.

Key recommendations include expanding subsidised access to insulin pumps for type 1 diabetes patients and continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) devices for type 2 diabetes patients, alongside those with type 3c diabetes and gestational diabetes.

Cain advocated, “We would like to see insulin pumps subsidised for all people living with type 1 diabetes, and we’ll be engaging with government about how to do that in a staged, affordable way.”

In support of the inquiry, the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) undertook cost modelling of insulin pump subsidies for all Australians living with Type 1 diabetes. These included Medtronic, AMSL Tandem, YpsoPump and Omnipod DASH devices which range between $6,000 and $10,000 every four years.

Jane MacDonald, a type 1 diabetes patient for over two decades, described managing the condition as “an unrelenting cognitive burden, with us 24/7, 365 days a year. There is no holiday from diabetes, no break and it can be challenging and exhausting.”

Cain added, “Likewise, we have been calling for subsidised access to CGM for people living with type 2 diabetes, particularly people using insulin and other vulnerable groups such as pregnant women, people under 21, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

International evidence showed people who have CGM have an 86% reduction in ambulance call-outs and a 60% reduction in hospitalisations.

Dr Freelander highlighted, “It is important that availability of new screening procedures, treatment and prevention possibilities be made available and horizon scanning for new advances be part of a long-term research and development pipeline.”

Addressing type 2 diabetes, Dr Freelander acknowledged the transformative impact of treatments like GLP-1 receptor agonists such as Ozempic (semaglutide).

“However, they are very expensive, require continuing treatment, have been in short supply and may have significant side effects,” Dr Freelander noted.

“Because of the short-term benefits for weight loss, there has been pressure for off label prescribing of these new medications and this has led to considerable prescribing and reformulation. It is my view that this should not be permitted because of the risks, and I support the governments recently implemented restrictions.”

Concerning health inequity, rising out-of-pocket costs and limited access to bulk-billed GPs present challenges.

As one consumer said “I have experienced financial hardship due to being a type 1. Due to the ongoing complications I now have from being Type1, an average month between medication, consumable and health insurance, I am out of pocket over $400 before I have medical appointments.”

Professor Trent Twomey, National President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, underscored pharmacists’ pivotal role, stating, “The average Australian visits their community pharmacy 18 times a year, which is more than any other primary healthcare access point. Just as we coordinate with our local general practitioner, we also coordinate with the community controlled health organisation… We are not trained to treat diseases. We’re trained to treat people.”

Dr Freelander stressed ongoing evaluation of recommendations, proposing oversight by the Australian Centre for Evaluation within the Department of Treasury and advocating for enhanced integration between State and Federal Health Departments in management and research capabilities.

“We need to act decisively and collectively. The time for bold action is now,” Cain emphasised. “We look forward to working with the government as it responds to the Committee’s recommendations.”

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