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Calls for automated insulin delivery system to be funded

Thursday 15 September 2022 2:47pm

University of Otago researchers are urging the Government to fund an automated insulin delivery system for type 1 diabetes patients, after a recent study showed it to now be “the best way” to manage the disease.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, compares the efficacy of the open source automated delivery system (AID), with the sensor-augmented insulin pum.

Automated Insulin Delivery in Type 1 Diabetes study

While AID systems are available in New Zealand, the critical component – continuous glucose monitoring – is not funded by the drug management agency Pharmac, making it out of reach for many. It is worn on the skin and senses changes in glucose, allowing an insulin pump and maths programme to adjust insulin response, cutting out the need for finger stick monitoring multiple times day and night.

Continuous glucose monitoring is Government-funded in Australia and England.

Ninety-seven patients, aged between 7 and 70 and who had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at least a year prior were involved in the study. For 24 weeks, 44 patients were fitted with the AID system and 53 the traditional sensor augmented pump and results from the final two weeks recorded.

Study lead Dr Martin de Bock, of the University of Otago, Christchurch, says patients in the AID group spent 3 hours 21 minutes more in the target glucose range than those on the insulin pump.

Four times more people kept their glucose levels in the range that significantly reduces the chances of developing long-term complications associated with diabetes while using the automated system.

“We now need to ensure that New Zealanders aren’t left behind in accessing this life changing technology,” Dr de Bock says.

Commercial systems are available in New Zealand, however current Pharmac funding means that only those who can afford to buy the continuous glucose monitoring can access it.

“This means that our most vulnerable will continue to be greatly impacted by type 1 diabetes, and grow the inequity we already see.

“If we really want to decrease health inequity for type 1 diabetes, we need to rapidly arrange access to this technology, prioritise our workforce to engage, and train people how to use systems to get the most out of it. Aotearoa has a highly skilled workforce, but it is under resourced to improve health inequity,” he says.

For more information, please contact:

Dr Martin de Bock
Paediatric Endocrinologist
University of Otago and Te Whatu Ora (Christchurch)

Lea Jones
Media Engagement Adviser
External Engagement
University of Otago
Tel +64 21 279 4969