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Tuesday, 4 October 1983
Page: 1326

Question No. 400

Mr Wells asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 25 August 1983:

(1) Is it a fact that diabetics and other sufferers who are able to get insulin and similar preparations on the National Health Scheme have to buy their syringes separately; if so, does this cost a diabetic, who requires frequent medication, up to $300 per year.

(2) Will he consider changing the National Health Scheme so that those who obtain such drugs as insulin are able to obtain their syringes on the same scheme.

Dr Blewett —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) Yes. Insulin dependent diabetics are not supplied with their syringes and needles under the National Health Scheme. The cost of syringes and needles varies depending on the place of purchase. There are no reliable data available on the costs of these items to diabetics. The costs could vary widely, depending on their usage and price. However, I understand some hospitals and diabetic associations are prepared to supply needles and syringes free of charge or at a reduced rate.

(2) The Government is sympathetic to the needs of diabetics and recognises the substantial costs faced by people with diabetes in the management of the condition. Additional programs such as assistance to diabetics with the cost of equipment could have considerable expenditure implications. Consideration is being given to such matters by the Government but it may be some time before it is in a position to announce the outcome of this consideration.