Diabetics fearful

21:52, Jul 11 2013
TESTING FRIGHT: In April Jackie Wingrove, 5, was put to bed with a blood sugar level that her new blood glucose meter showed her mother to be safe. In the middle of the night, her mother woke to a child who had become incoherent.

Worried mum Suzee Ross fears a new government funded testing kit for diabetics is putting two of her children at risk.

The Kaikohe resident checks her daughters Ashley and Jackie's blood glucose levels 10 times a day.

But the new kits sometimes deliver different results to the old ones - causing confusion over whether the children should be treated with insulin or not.

The problem first arose in April, one month after the new CareSens kits were introduced as a cost saving measure by Pharmac - the Crown agency that decides which medicines or health-related products are subsidised.

Ms Ross put her youngest daughter, Jackie, 5, to bed with a reading of 16.2 millimoles per litre on her new metre and 13.5 on her old one.

The second result would generally require a shot of insulin but she decided to go with the safe figure recorded on the CareSens device.


Ms Ross woke at 2am to find Jackie in the midst of a fit.

"She was incoherent, I was trying to grab her and she was thrashing around, shaking, screaming - she screamed so badly that her voice was altered for the next three days."

Ms Ross alerted her doctor at the Whangarei Hospital where tests have since backed up her claims of irregular readings.

Her faith in the new testing kits has been rocked and she is worried about what will happen when her three month supply of the old ones runs out.

Diabetics using the old meters before June 1, 2012, will be able to keep using them free of charge but Ms Ross' daughters, including Ashley, 8, were only recently diagnosed and do not qualify.

Ms Ross will have to pay $8000 a year to keep using them if she decides to avoid the free alternative.

"I'm a solo mum and I'm struggling as it is," the mother of three says.

David Pavey is business unit manager at Pharmaco, the organisation contracted to Pharmac to supply the new devices.

He says they have been tested rigorously and are compliant with international standards.

Mr Pavey says staff are working with individuals as questions arise but stand by the quality and accuracy of the CareSens products.

"Meters and laboratory analysers are calibrated, or set, to measure blood glucose in different ways and will give slightly different results," Mr Pavey says.

"Pharmaco has a team of highly trained technical representatives who have been educating health care professionals around the country as people change to the new meters and strips.

"Part of this education has been about reviewing how people test so that the process and therefore the results can be as consistent as possible," he says.

"This education is aimed at supporting people as much as possible to manage their condition as best they can.

"Pharmaco has and will continue to meet with individuals who are expressing concerns and assist them to use their meters and test strips optimally to get accurate readings."

A growing number of diabetics and supporters share similar concerns to Ms Ross.

Nearly 570 are following the Stop Pharmac taking away the choices of people with diabetes! Facebook campaign urging Pharmaco to reconsider its stance.

Northern News