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For Immediate Release


Nov. 14, 2008

Office of the Premier

Ministry of Health Services




VANCOUVER – Government will fund insulin pumps for eligible children with type 1 diabetes, announced Premier Gordon Campbell and Health Services Minister George Abbott today.


            “Coping with type 1 diabetes can be stressful for young children and their families. Providing insulin pumps can help alleviate that stress for B.C. kids and ensure they grow up to be healthy adults,” said Premier Campbell, who attended an event at Bayview Elementary in Vancouver as part of an awareness raising campaign to mark World Diabetes Day. “Providing insulin pumps is another tool for parents and physicians to manage the disease, so that our children can live happy, healthy and productive lives.”


There are approximately 2,200 children with type 1 diabetes in British Columbia, and the Ministry of Health Services estimates that about 600 children use insulin pumps.  Insulin pumps cost approximately $6,500 each. The expanded coverage will provide new pumps for approximately 200 patients each year at a cost of about $1.5 million annually. Insulin pumps can help patients who have particularly serious diabetes, and who are not able to effectively control their condition through the use of oral diabetes medications or daily injections.


            As of Nov. 17, 2008, endocrinologists and pediatricians can apply for insulin pump coverage for their patients, aged 18 and under, through the Province’s special authority process. An insulin pump can benefit young patients who have difficulty managing their disease via other methods. Use of the pump removes the need for the current process of multiple daily injections. It allows for more accurate delivery of insulin throughout the day and night, and can help to reduce the chances of long-term complications from the disease.


            In addition, the Province will now cover the cost of insulin pump reservoirs for patients of all ages who use insulin pumps to manage their diabetes. Reservoirs are disposable, and on average, must be changed every three days. Expanding their coverage to include reservoirs will save patients with type 1 diabetes up to $700 annually.


            “Even with all of the benefits covered by PharmaCare for patients with diabetes – which total about $60 million per year – out-of-pocket expenses can add up,” said Abbott. “By covering insulin pumps for children and expanding coverage to insulin pump reservoirs for all patients, we are hoping to reduce the financial and emotional toll caused by this chronic disease.”  


Type 1 diabetes affects the patient’s insulin production. People are typically diagnosed with type 1 diabetes by age 30 – usually in childhood or their teenage years. Its cause is unknown, and there is no cure.


            “The government’s decision is welcome news for children with type 1 diabetes and their families, and we would like to thank Premier Campbell for making this fantastic commitment to the people of the province,” said Jean Blake, Pacific region executive director, Canadian Diabetes Association. “By giving families the option of using an insulin pump, you help to reduce the burden on children who suffer from this disease, and allow them to live as normal a life as possible.”


            “For some children, an insulin pump is the only way they can effectively manage this disease, and in the past the cost has been prohibitive for many families,” said Dr. Daniel Metzger, a pediatric endocrinologist at BC Children’s Hospital. “This decision will make a big difference in the everyday lives of those children who suffer from this disease and meet the medical criteria for insulin pump therapy.”


            PharmaCare already provides coverage for diabetes medications and supplies, including needles, syringes, and blood glucose test strips. Currently 12 effective drug therapies for treating and managing diabetes are covered by PharmaCare, five under special authority. Two additional medications are covered as partial benefits. Patients must be registered with Fair PharmaCare to have medications and supplies covered, and must meet their annual deductibles.    


Through PharmaCare, the Province is spending $60 million a year on diabetes treatments – a 40 per cent increase since 2001. Overall, the direct care costs of diabetes in B.C. are estimated at over $1 billion annually.


PharmaCare is one of the most comprehensive programs in the country, and provides coverage to every British Columbian. It is one of the fastest growing areas of the health care budget. Since 2001, the PharmaCare budget has increased by more than 56 per cent – from $654 million to over $1 billion in 2007/08.


To obtain coverage, the first step is to speak to your diabetes physician specialist. If you or your child meets the medical criteria for coverage of a pump, the specialist will submit a special authority request to PharmaCare.






Bridgitte Anderson

Press Secretary

Office of the Premier

604 307-7177


Bernadette Murphy

Media Relations Manager

Ministry of Health Services

250 952-1887

250 213-9590 cell



Jeremy Brace

National Media Relations

Canadian Diabetes Association

416 408-7071


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