Germany to limit test strips prescriptions

Experts attack a Federal decision that will affect vital self-monitoring

Since the German Federal Ministry of Health did not oppose the Federal Joint Committee (G-BA) decision to eliminate reimbursement for urine and blood sugar test strips for Type 2 diabetics not dependent on insulin from the services provided by statutory medical insurers, from this October test strips will only be prescribed in exceptional cases.

‘We are disappointed by stance the Federal Ministry of Health has taken under the leadership of Mr Daniel Bahr,’ declared Professor Thomas Danne, president of the German Diabetes Association (DDG) and chairman of the board at diabetesDE. ‘Along with other associations, diabetesDE and the German Diabetes Federation have campaigned vehemently against this ruling coming into force.’

The impression is that the decision was taken without an awareness of its effects on patients’ everyday lives, with an anticipated deterioration in care, he said, adding that this has met with complete incomprehension by diabetesDE, as well as the diabetics, researchers and diabetologists it represents, and by the German Diabetes Federation, the largest patient organisation. Around two thirds of diabetics in the country are affected by the decision, i.e. 4.7 million people, mostly of retirement age.

Patients with Type 2 diabetes are being made to believe that regular blood sugar testing is ‘not necessary’ for disease management. However, that is a ‘fatal signal’, explained Michaela Berger, board member at diabetesDE and the German Association for Diabetes Education and Counselling Professions (VDBD): ‘In future, blood sugar will only be tested in exceptional cases – but blood sugar level monitoring is much more than a means of crisis intervention. Regular control enhances patients’ personal responsibility for their illness and their body – and it is the best way of damage regulation in a case of impending or already occurring hypoglycaemia. When the new ruling comes into force patients will be systematically disempowered rather than empowered.’

Dieter Möhler, national chairman of the German Diabetes Federation, added: ‘We have not asked for everything for everyone, but we are adamant that there must be no treatment restrictions for doctors when it comes to providing individual treatment of patients. This is the only way that patients can be assured of treatment that corresponds with their special life and work situation.’

Living with Type 2 diabetes without test strips is like driving without a driving licence, he pointed out. Patients now have no feedback whatsoever as to how their lifestyle affects their blood sugar levels and therefore the development of secondary diseases in the long term.
 

20.06.2011

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