JDRF Canada launches advocacy campaign for type 1 diabetes device (T1D) access

Working with local volunteers the non-profit hopes to get T1D on the agenda in the runup to the provincial election

ALBERTA— May 1, 2023 – JDRF Canada is recommending that candidates in the upcoming provincial election support Albertans living with type 1 diabetes (T1D) by expanding coverage of continuous glucose monitors (CGM) devices to all ages. 

The organization also urges the government to expand coverage to include Flash Glucose Monitoring (Flash GM) devices for all ages. Funding these devices will reduce financial and physical burdens on Alberta’s health care system, offer greater patient choice and suitability of device, and further advance the government’s efforts to reduce wait times and improve health outcomes through the increased use of virtual care.

T1D is an autoimmune condition and one of the fastest-growing chronic health conditions, impacting nearly 25,000 Albertans. Certain factors like family history can increase risk, but it is not caused by lifestyle factors. T1D attacks the cells in the pancreas responsible for making insulin, meaning someone with T1D cannot convert food into energy. Insulin must be administered externally and continually balanced against food, rest, and activity. Even with the most careful management, T1D can lead to long-term complications including damage to the kidneys, eyes, nerves, heart and even premature death. There is currently no cure for T1D.

T1D is a lifelong disease and does not stop at 18 years of age, and neither do the complications and costs associated with managing this disease. By restricting CGM coverage to only those that are 18 years of age or younger, young adults and vulnerable persons are further financially burdened with the costs associated with this disease.

Other provinces such as Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, PEI, and Yukon have all implemented some coverage for those beyond 18 years of age for either CGM or Flash GM devices, and in some cases both.

The out-of-pocket cost per year for the average Albertan without the devices can be as high as $6557. While there is an upfront cost to funding these devices, having access to glucose monitoring and insulin pumps has been proven to save healthcare costs in the long-term. Diabetes complications are significant drivers of health care spending.

Diabetes Canada has pegged the annual cost of health care spending due to diabetes in Alberta at $494 million in 2022 and is estimated to reach $692 million by 2032. While T1D accounts for a fraction of this spending, significant savings can be realized through better management of T1D, which will ultimately keep patients out of hospitals and enable them to better manage life with this disease.

In 2022, JDRF commissioned a cost effectiveness study on the use of advanced glucose monitors and determined that they are at much lower cost-effectiveness threshold than the acceptable threshold for decision-makers 

“JDRF Canada, through its Access for All program, advocates governments for funding that we know will improve the lives of those living with type 1 diabetes, while we fund the most promising research into cures. Type 1 diabetes does not end at age 18 and it is a relentless, lifelong disease that requires continual self-management to survive,” says Dave Prowten, President and CEO of JDRF Canada.

“Type 1 diabetes is a non-partisan issue and we implore all parties in Alberta to recognize this and the value of innovation in diabetes technology by removing age caps on access to insulin pumps and advanced glucose monitors. Coverage of this critical technology will enable everyone living with type 1 diabetes to live healthier, safer and easier lives,” he continues.

Ensuring the most innovative diabetes devices are accessible to Albertans living with T1D means they can benefit from advancements in technology such as a hybrid closed loop system where an advanced glucose monitor can communicate with an insulin pump to change minute-to-minute insulin delivery based on changes in blood glucose levels. This system not only reduces the constant burden of self-management, but evidence shows that used a closed loop system significantly improves health outcomes, reduces the number of diabetes complications and hospitalizations, and reduces the risk of death.

 “My T1D didn’t stop when I turned 18 and neither should provincial coverage of CGMs. It’s more than just the cost savings for the healthcare system, these devices help give people like me peace of mind.” – Kurtis Samagalski, a young adult living with T1D in Edmonton, Alberta

To become an advocate and join the campaign, please click here. 

Making life with #T1D healthier, safer, and easier.

Government policies up to 2022

  • In July 2022, the government reversed its decision to change the Insulin Pump Therapy Program and will instead add additional pumps to its coverage. The government also established a diabetes working group and any decision on treatment for diabetes will be informed by the group.
  • In July 2021, the government announced increased coverage up to $2,400 for diabetes supplies in government sponsored programs, including Blue Cross Coverage for Seniors and Non-Group Coverage.
  • In December 2019, the government launched its Biosimilars Initiative which introduced changes for adults using insulin. To maintain public coverage, Individuals using an originator insulin will be required to switch to its biosimilar.  
  • In February 2019, the Guidelines for Supporting Students with Type 1 Diabetes was released to offer guidance to provincial school boards.
  • In 2016, the Diabetes, Obesity and Nutrition Strategic Clinical Network (DON SCN) released an Inpatient Diabetes Management Initiative in its effort to standardize how patients with diabetes are cared for in Alberta’s hospitals.
  • In 2014, DON SCN released a provincial Diabetes Foot Care Clinical Pathway for Albertans with diabetes in its effort to reduce diabetic foot ulcers and amputations.

For more information:
Luka Stevanovic
National Director, Government Relations & Advocacy
T. 647-951-1978
E. lstevanovic@jdrf.ca