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Doctors, advocates hail federal diabetes drug plan as potentially ‘life-changing’

Doctors and advocacy groups are hailing a federal plan to cover diabetes medications and supplies for patients they say sometimes have to choose between caring for their health and buying food.

Dr. Tom Elliott, medical director of a diabetes clinic in Vancouver, says one of his patients was hospitalized near death with severe complications because he could not afford to buy medication after paying for groceries.

The endocrinologist says that while British Columbia has the country’s best coverage for low-income patients, many do not meet the deductible requirement so they skip their drugs or don’t take them at all.

Elliott says that besides insulin, continuous glucose monitors and insulin pumps are essential and that coverage for these items would make a life-saving difference to patients.

Federal Health Minister Mark Holland did not provide those details after tabling a bill today that paves the way for national pharmacare, starting with plans to cover birth control and diabetes drugs and supplies.

Diabetes Canada and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation say better access to drugs would improve the lives of millions of people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 29, 2024.

Canadian Press health coverage receives support through a partnership with the Canadian Medical Association. CP is solely responsible for this content.

Camille Bains, The Canadian Press

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