There has been a lot going on these past few years in terms of promising new treatments and technology and the coverage provided to people with type 1 diabetes (T1D) by the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ).
Whether or not you appreciate this new technology, a growing number of studies are showing that not only does it help achieve better glycemic control, but it also helps with the overall management of diabetes.
In the COVID-19 context, technology has also contributed to facilitating communication between T1D patients and their healthcare teams.
Here is a summary of what’s coming to Quebec in the next two to three years. (Most of these are already available in other countries.)
Biosimilar insulin is a similar copy of an existing biological type of insulin (the equivalent of a generic drug) that is manufactured by a different company. In order to be authorized by Health Canada, these types of insulin must be proven to be as safe and effective as the reference insulin; for instance, they must not cause more hypoglycemic or hyperglycemic episodes or allergic reactions. A much simpler development process also means a lower cost.
The biosimilar types of insulin that have been developed in the past few years include: first, Basaglar® (insulin glargine, equivalent to Lantus®), more recently Ademlog® (equivalent to Humalog®, insulin lispro), and soon Trurapi® (equivalent to Novorapid®, insulin aspart). Provincial governments are moving towards favouring the use of biosimilar insulin, as indicated by the RAMQ’s decision to stop covering Lantus® (in 2017) and Humalog® (in March 2021) for people wishing to start using them.
People who were already using Lantus or Humalog can still be covered for the time being. However, this may change in spring 2022, when the RAMQ will stop covering several reference types of insulin, including for patients who have been using them for a long time. Make sure you talk with your healthcare team in case you need to have your prescription or insulin pen changed. At this point, we still don’t know how the transition will unfold because the RAMQ has not made any announcements.
Smart insulin pens
New “smart” pens will be launched soon. They have a Bluetooth-enabled cap or clip-on device that automatically logs and sends data to your smart phone on insulin dosage upon administration. Some models will also be able to share this data with certain continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems (e.g., Dexcom, Freestyle Libre), which will allow you to view your data and have a better idea of how your insulin intake affects your blood sugar. The first pens of this kind should be available in the spring or summer 2022.
What's next ?
These new products are only a sample of what the next few years have in store for us. CGMs, insulin pumps and other tech tools will keep on getting better at helping T1D patients manage their blood sugar and the daily burden of T1D.
Come back next week for more! Subscribe to our facebook page to be sure not to miss anything.