College of GPs calls PHARMAC’s diabetes decision today a ‘win for equity’

21 December 2020

Category: Media releases

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Today’s decision by PHARMAC to fund two new medications for the management of Type 2 diabetes, and to especially make them available for Māori and Pacific patients is a win for equity says 鶹Ƶ.

The College and its Māori representative group, Te Akoranga a Māui, worked together earlier this year to advocate about the importance of empagliflozin (Jardiance) and dulaglutide (Trulicity) for the management of Type 2 diabetes.

There are 220,000 鶹Ƶers living with Type 2 diabetes, and an estimated 11 per cent of the health budget goes towards treating the disease each year. Māori are affected three times as often as Pākehā patients, and Pacific people five times as often.

“We know that GPs across the country will whole-heartedly endorse this decision from PHARMAC as the right one,” said Dr Betty

“We commend PHARMAC in this instance for making these medications available and developing criteria specifically targeting people of Māori and Pacific ethnicity, who often experience early onset of this disease and have disproportionately poorer health outcomes. 

Dr Bryan Betty outside his clinic
Dr Bryan Betty outside the clinic where he works, Porirua Union Health.

“PHARMAC’s announcement today will give many people with Type 2 diabetes improved treatment options for managing their disease, which we are increasingly diagnosing at younger ages, to devastating effect,”

Dr Bryan Betty

These new medications have substantial advantages in that they typically lead to weight loss, do not cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and protect against cardiovascular and renal disease independently of their effects on glucose levels.

“Māori and Pacific patients are seven to 12 times more likely to progress to end-stage renal failure compared with Europeans. This situation obviously needs to drastically improve; today’s announcement by PHARMAC will make a measurable difference to the lives of many Kiwis by giving them options that, until now, have just been unattainable,” says Dr Betty.