In its wisdom Pharmac has decided to introduce a sole-supply model for blood glucose meters and test strips. This decision was vigorously opposed by Diabetes New Zealand and other interested parties during the consultation period. One of the resulting outcomes of this decision is the sole supply of lancing devices used by people with diabetes to self-monitor blood glucose.
Currently, the most commonly used lancing device has a rotatable drum containing six retractable lancets. These drums can be safely disposed of in household rubbish. The sole-supply blood glucose meters subsidised from September 1 include a lancing device which uses a single disposable lancet which, for health and safety reasons, needs to be capped before disposal in a biohazard waste container.
Unlike drug addicts, who have a free needle exchange programme, people with diabetes have no access to a national sharps disposal system. Theoretically, sharps containers of used lancets, insulin syringes and pen needles can be returned to community pharmacies for disposal. However, not all pharmacies participate in this programme, which can vary from a free service to some cost for the user. It is inevitable that without a national sharps disposal programme, used lancets are going to be discarded in household and workplace waste.
This is a pressing health and safety issue requiring urgent attention.
Diabetes New Zealand, Waikato Branch
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