Canada must become proactive in addressing type 2 diabetes. With the second highest rate of diabetes prevalence in the developed world, the number of Canadians living with diabetes will soon reach epidemic levels. Against international comparisons, Canada also performs poorly with respect to diabetes-related hospitalizations, mortality rates, and access to medications. Diabetes and its comorbidities pose a significant burden on people with diabetes (PWD) and their families, through out-of-pocket expenses for medications, devices, supplies, and the support needed to manage their illness. Rising direct and indirect costs of diabetes will become a drain on Canada’s economy and undermine the financial stability of our health care system. Canada’s approach to diabetes medication assessment and funding has created a patchwork of medication access across provinces. Access to treatments for those who rely on public programs is highly restricted compared to Canadians with private drug plans, as well in contrast with public payers in other countries. Each person living with diabetes has different needs, so a “patient-centric” approach ensures treatment focused on individual circumstances. Such tailoring is difficult to
achieve, with the linear approach required by public payers. We may be undermining optimal care for PWD because of access policies that are not aligned with individualized approaches – and increasing overall health care costs in the process. The scope of Canada’s diabetes challenge
demands holistic and proactive solutions. Canada needs to get out from “behind the eight ball” and get “ahead of the curve” when it comes to diabetes care. Improving access to medications is one of the tools for getting there. Canada’s “call to action” for diabetes starts with effective implementation of existing best practices. A personalized approach to medication access, to meet individual needs and optimize outcomes, is also a key enabler. PWD and prescribers need reimbursement approaches that allow them to use existing tools (ie, medications and supplies) to manage diabetes in a timely manner and to avoid and/or delay major downstream complications.