The provincial government has expanded BC PharmaCare coverage to allow British Columbians living with diabetes easier access to the Dexcom G6 continuous glucose monitor (CGM).
CGMs automatically track glucose levels in real time.
Without a CGM, monitoring of blood glucose for diabetics involves a finger poke to draw blood, which is then applied to a strip, so a machine can calculate the numbers.
“You must constantly be aware of your blood glucose number, (because) if it gets too high for too long, you can develop both acute and long-term complications,” said Comox Valley mom Lisa Christensen, whose daughter, Lillithe, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2017. “If it gets too low, you are in danger of unconsciousness, or if you do not receive help it could lead to potential death.”
With CGMs, a small sensor is attached to the skin on a patient’s abdomen or upper buttock, eliminating the need for the finger poke.
Lisa has been championing the expanded PharmaCare coverage for the past year, ever since Lillithe was introduced to the Dexcom G6, about 18 months ago. The Christensens received a grant from a charity to access funds for the monitor.
“This is an amazing life- and sanity-saving device,” said Lisa, in a previous interview with Black Press. “The accuracy of the G6 has been pretty much spot on for us, you can dose insulin without the need for painful finger pokes. Because of the transmitting ability of the device, both my husband and I can access the blood glucose at any time on our phones.”
The Christensens, and many other B.C. families, and advocacy groups, have been pressuring the government to expand the PharmaCare coverage to include the Dexcom G6.
On Friday morning (June 11), Lisa sat in on the announcement, via Zoom.
“Our family has been very lucky, because a charity was funding our (Dexcom) but it has always been very front of my mind to get this coverage for everyone because not everyone can access (charitable funds),” she said. “Everyone now will have access to an indispensable management tool. They are going to be able to see their numbers in real time, to make better, more informed decisions. This technology pretty much prevents dangerous lows from even happening, because you can see them coming before it gets to be a problem. Families will be able to sleep well at night because they will know that the Dexcom is on guard and an alert will be sent to their phone if anything begins to go out of range.”
The Dexcom G6 sensor lasts 10 days before it must be replaced, and the Dexcom G6 transmitter can be used for 90 days.
The government estimates approximately 20,000 families will benefit from the announcement in the first three years.
According to a statement released by the Ministry of Health, the Dexcom G6 CGM will be a limited-coverage benefit, meaning coverage is available to people with diabetes who meet the special authority criteria for CGMs. For patients who receive special authority approval, coverage will be provided to people enrolled in Fair PharmaCare and to those with PharmaCare coverage through Plan C (income assistance), Plan F (children in the At Home program) or Plan W (First Nations health benefits).
Special authority grants coverage to a drug, medical supply, or device that otherwise would not be eligible for full coverage. British Columbians are encouraged to register for the income-based Fair PharmaCare drug coverage plan.
See your family physician for more details.