Patient group expresses concern over planned diabetes tender

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The CEO of JDRF Australia, Mike Wilson OAM, has expressed concern over the planned tender for continuous glucose monitoring products.

Mr Wilson was appearing at the first public hearing of the House of Representatives inquiry into diabetes in Australia.

Health minister Mark Butler recently referred the inquiry to the committee chaired by Labor MP Dr Mike Freelander.

The terms of reference cover the causes of diabetes, including risk factors, advances in prevention, diagnosis and management, its broader impacts and related issues such as obesity.

The inquiry is being held against the backdrop of a planned tender of products supplied to the National Diabetes Service Scheme, including insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) products.

The Albanese government funded CGM products for all Australians with Type 1 diabetes from 1 July last year. Three products are currently funded. Yet the tender has raised concerns over the policy intent and future funding arrangements.

At the inquiry's first public hearing, held this week, Mr Wilson said that while important that the government look to the future, the priority should be to ensure that "we don't destroy the recent past".

"We now have a choice of CGMs at all ages and stages of Type 1 diabetes...There is a risk that the current review being conducted could have a lets choose a product at a price point type outcome. It is not a predetermined outcome, but it has been explicitly described.

"There's an opportunity for consumer consultation and clinical input, but it is unclear how that is factored into decision criteria. So the worst possible outcome would be giving everybody access from last July, to whatever CGM they wanted, whenever they wanted it. Then coming out a year and a half later and saying you cannot choose what you want and there is only one you can have.

"If it does not suit you, that is no good. So, let's not mess up what we have looking to the future."

Mr Wilson also challenged how current health technology assessment processes have evaluated the CGM products.

He said a flawed process in terms of the time taken is compounded by the evaluation methodology.

"HbA1c, which has been described as a long-term rolling average of blood glucose levels, is just a rolling average. If you have something that dramatically reduces the dangerous highs and dangerous lows, but does not change the average, that's not as seen as having a clinical benefit in the current assessment processes. So how we assess technologies and the metrics that are used to assess them, need to evolve and reflect better what matters to patients," added Mr Wilson.