AID access in Australia | Diabetogenic

Hasn’t it been terrific this week seeing a couple of great news stories in the T1D tech world? Our friends across the ditch in NZ have welcomed an announcement from medical regulatory board Pharmac that all people with type 1 diabetes will have access to CGM and automated insulin delivery devices (AID). Meanwhile, this week saw the start of a five-year national roll out of AID in England and Wales which recommends access be granted to children and adolescence (under 18 years) with T1D, pregnant people with T1D and adults with T1D with an A1c higher than 7%. 

So, where is Australia when it comes to people with T1D being able to affordably access automated insulin delivery devices? 

Let’s start by highlighting the positives. There’s so much to be grateful for here in Australia. The NDSS continues to be a shining light for Australians with diabetes. Syringes and pen tips are free at NDSS collection points and BGL strips are subsidised. Since 2004, insulin pump consumables have been on the NDSS, CGM sensors and transmitters have been subsidised since 2022. Insulin is heavily subsidised by the PBS. 

But even with these benefits diabetes remains costly, and the playing field isn’t level. Pumps remain out of reach for many Australians. Without private health insurance or meeting eligibility to apply for the government funded Insulin Pump Program, people with T1D are required to find up to $10,000 for an insulin pump. That’s simply not affordable and it means that Australians with T1D can’t access AID.

With AID providing real life-changing benefits and significant reduction in diabetes burden, now is the time to ensure that the tech is available to everyone with T1D who wants it – not just those who can afford it. And that means that it’s time to equitably fund the missing piece of the AID puzzle: Pumps. 

A fire has been lit. From a small meeting at ATTD in Florence to catch ups, coffees and phone calls back home, the groundswell has well and truly started. People with diabetes are central to this, working closely with motivated and determined HCPs and diabetes community organisations. There is a united focus on what needs to be done: affordable insulin pumps so AID is a reality for every Australian with type 1 diabetes who chooses. And excitedly, there seems to be an appetite for this from policy makers.

So what can we learn from the recent successes in NZ and the UK? Well, it’s exactly what we know from our previous advocacy experiences and wins here in Australia. A united stakeholder approach is critical with everyone from individuals with diabetes, community groups, diabetes organisations, professional bodies, researchers, industry all being clear and consistent about the ask. Simple and effective communication about the issue is needed. Community drives the momentum – it always does and recognising that is essential. Using evidence to support why AID must be available to all with T1D is important, and goes perfectly with sharing examples of lived experience to highlight the benefit of the technology. Hearts and minds. 

With the push already well established and a number of people powering the charge, it’s inevitable that the diabetes world in Australia is going to be hearing a lot about equitable AID and pump access in coming months. Keep an eye out on community groups for grassroots efforts to elevate the issue and for calls to get involved. We know that we can get this done – just as with getting CGMs funded for all people with T1D, for finding a novel way for Omnipod to be funded, and for Fiasp remaining on the PBS. (And, if we look further back, for getting pump consumables on the NDSS.) 

Community will be critical to getting this across the line. Once again, we’ll need people with diabetes to step up and write letters, meet with local MPs, make noise, and show why this is necessary. Every single person with T1D and their families has a role to play here. If you’re already fortunate to be using AID, meet with your local MP and tell them how it has changed your life. If you haven’t had access, write about why you know it will help. For me, I’ll be talking about how much time I have grasped back not needing to do diabetes, how I have far fewer hypos, how I have an A1c in the ‘non-diabetes’ range which evidence suggests reduces my risk of developing costly complications. But most importantly, it has reduced my diabetes burden so much and that makes me a far happier, more productive person. And I want that for everyone with T1 D. 

Postscript: a quick word (or two) about language. Media reports, especially in the UK, have incorrectly referred to the technology as an ‘artificial pancreas’. What we are talking about is automated insulin delivery devices (or hybrid closed loop systems). It’s important to get the language right for a couple of reasons: Artificial pancreas is simply not the correct term for what the technology is. It overstates what it does and potentially leads people to think the technology is a cure for T1D. Additionally, it underestimates the work that PWD do to drive the technology. More detail about why getting the terminology right is important can be found in this piece I wrote back in 2015 about the same issue and then again here from almost exactly two years ago.) 

At ATTD, I gave a talk for the launch of the Global Diabetes Advocacy Network about the critical role held by people with lived experience when it comes to diabetes advocacy and why organisations must centre our experience and expertise in their own advocacy efforts.
I’m introduced most generously by Adrian Sanders, Secretary General of the Parliamentarians for Diabetes Global Network.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Hot Topics

Related Articles