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During Diabetes Awareness Month, Canada’s leading diabetes experts are urging action be taken to address the type 2 diabetes epidemic, which is being impacted by a treatment system not focused on patient needs.

Recently on Parliament Hill, the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) hosted a release event for Bringing Patient-Centricity to Diabetes Medication Access in Canada. The peer-reviewed paper argues that in Canada, a country which has the second worst rate of type 2 diabetes in the developed world, people living with diabetes are not being supported adequately by their health-care system.

“The sad reality is that too often physicians are not able to apply the individualized approach that best serves the patient, including providing the right medicines for the right patient at the right time,” said Dr. Katharina Kovacs Burns, a paper co-author and senior manager of Quality Healthcare and Improvement for Alberta Health Services. “It is certainly possible to effectively manage this disease, but we need comprehensive long-term action to delay and prevent more Canadians experiencing the health consequences of poorly controlled diabetes, including amputations, heart attack, strokes, kidney failure and blindness.”

The paper argues that Canada is uncoordinated in its approach to drug benefit plans, and people living with type 2 diabetes are bearing the brunt of the system’s shortcomings. Right now, the paper states Canadians living with diabetes receive different access to treatment depending on who they are and where they live, and they are not getting the most effective, personalized care because of a failing treatment approach not focused on patient needs, but on the system itself.

The CDA supports the paper’s call to action for a patient-centred system that provides Canadians with timely, tailored and effective treatment, regardless of where they live or their income. This call to action is consistent with the CDA’s own Clinical Practice Guidelines (Guidelines), which are based on key principles including: not waiting too long to initiate treatment, matching the right medication to the patient, increasing doses in a timely way, and adding medications when needed.

“The threat here is real. While the Guidelines represent the best and most current evidence-based clinical practice data for health-care professionals to support people living with diabetes, we need the political system to actually allow access to those treatments,” said Russell Williams, vice-president government relations and public policy, CDA. “The Canadian Diabetes Association looks forward to working further with governments to modernize diabetes treatment in Canada because the strain on the health-care system and the threat to the broader economy will only become more staggering.”

The CDA looks to work with its federal, provincial and territorial government partners on how best to achieve these objectives.

In 2017 the CDA will also be hosting events in communities across Canada to identify local solutions to the challenges of type 2 diabetes care.

Quick Facts:

  • A 2015 CDA report estimated that out-of-pocket costs for people with type 2 diabetes is between $723 and $1,914 each year depending on their age, income and where they live.
  • In a 2016 Innovative Medicines Canada report examined reimbursement and availability of new medications in 20 of the top 30 counties included in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD);Canada ranked 18th with only 37 per cent of new medicines receiving public reimbursement across jurisdictions.
  • The CDA estimates that there are 11 million Canadians living with diabetes or prediabetes, that every three minutes, another Canadian is diagnosed, and that diabetes prevalence will grow by more than 40 per cent by 2025.
  • It is estimated that the direct costs of diabetes and its related conditions costs Canada $3 billion annually.
  • This paper, published in ClinicoEconomics and Outcomes Research, was funded in partnership with AstraZeneca, who had no editorial involvement in the content.

About Diabetes Canada

Diabetes Canada is the registered national charitable organization that is making the invisible epidemic of diabetes visible and urgent. Diabetes Canada partners with Canadians to End Diabetes through:

  • Resources for health care professionals on best practices to care for people with diabetes;
  • Advocacy to governments, schools and workplaces; and
  • Funding world-leading Canadian research to improve treatments and find a cure.

For more information, visit or call 1-800-BANTING (226-8464).

Category Tags: Research;

Region: National

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