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Diabetic has fears over new meter

Last updated 05:00 20/03/2013

GWYNETH HYNDMAN

A self-employed Invercargill electrician with Type I diabetes is one of a growing number people unhappy with Pharmac-funded CareSens meter to test blood glucose levels.

Adam Fraser, 28, said the only meter the Government now funded had made his condition impossible to manage and he feared the effects would lead to health complications and even early death.

After initially being given the meter for a person with Type II diabetes, which did not read his blood glucose levels correctly and made his levels "out of whack" in the past month, he was given the CareSens "N POP" meter and thought the issue would be solved.

His first reading yesterday morning was a 11.3 - well outside the acceptable blood glucose level of 4 to 8.

To counteract the high level, he injected himself with the required dose of insulin.

Because he hadn't felt anything irregular, he tested his level on his previous meter, which he had relied on for accurate readings for the past three years.

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It showed a reading of 7.3, which meant that his level had been fine and he had "overdosed" on insulin.

"I'm at the end of my tether . . . I'm a Southland self-employed sparkie and I need to check my blood sugar and know it's right so I can make it to my next meal."

Mr Fraser is one of about 120,000 New Zealanders with diabetes who have been changing to Pharmac-funded CareSens meters during the past six months. He pays $3 for nine boxes of test strips for the meter through Pharmac. If he stuck with his old meter, he would be paying about $50 for one box, he said.

Yesterday he became one of more than 520 followers of Facebook page "Stop Pharmac Taking Away from People with Diabetes" for New Zealanders who do not want Pharmac to fund just one type of blood-glucose testing strip and meter.

Followers were encouraged to contact Pharmac with concerns about the CareSens meters.

Complaints included further inaccuracies in readings, insufficient directions on the packaging and "gaps in communication" between CareSens call centre and Pharmac.

Yesterday, Pharmac chief executive Steffan Crausaz said of more than 50,000 meters in use, only a small number had been returned for further testing.

He understood patients had been comparing test results of the new meters with their old meters. It was possible for two meters to give different results, but that did not mean either of the meters was wrong, he said.

However, meters returned would be evaluated by the supplier and Pharmac was monitoring the reporting on that, he said.

Pharmac had no concerns over the level of returns, he said.

In 2012, Pharmac announced that the switch to the one Korean provider for diabetes equipment would save the Government $10 million, which it said would be reinvested in other medical devices and medicines.

Last year the changes were heavily criticised when they were announced and led to protest marches in Wellington and Auckland. The Government received more than 3000 submissions about the move.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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