Diabetes can be challenging to manage, especially if you are relying on frequent finger-sticks and a glucometer. 

More recent technologies provide an easier option for glucose monitoring. Both continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) and flash glucose monitors (FGMs) reduce the number of finger-sticks, collect real-time data and send alerts to the user when glucose levels are concerning.

In 2022, the Dexcom G6 CGM System was approved for Fair PharmaCare coverage, expanding options for many diabetic British Columbians.

More recently, the Freestyle Libre 2, an FGM system, has been approved for coverage under Fair PharmaCare. As of August 1, 2023, residents of BC will have another PharmaCare covered option for managing their diabetes safely, effectively and with fewer finger-sticks.

What is flash glucose monitoring (FGM)?

Flash glucose monitoring (FGM) is a revolutionary advancement in diabetes care that offers a more convenient and less intrusive way to monitor glucose levels. Unlike traditional finger-stick tests, flash glucose monitoring involves inserting a small sensor under your skin, usually on your arm. This sensor reads glucose levels in the interstitial fluid, providing real-time data on your smartphone or a dedicated reader device. FGM systems can help determine diabetes treatment decisions, including insulin dosing.

When the sensor is “flashed” or scanned with a reader device, it transmits the real time glucose reading and information on the previous eight hours.

What is the Freestyle Libre flash glucose monitor?

The Freestyle Libre 2 is one of the most popular flash glucose monitors available today. Developed by Abbott Diabetes Care, it has gained widespread recognition for its ease of use and accuracy. The system consists of a small, round sensor that attaches to the skin with a thin, flexible filament. Users can scan the sensor with a reader device or a compatible smartphone to instantly access their glucose data, including trends and patterns over time. 

The Freestyle Libre 2 also offers customizable alarms that alert users when their glucose levels are too high or too low, providing added peace of mind. A sensor can be worn for up to 14 days.

Flash glucose monitoring vs. continuous glucose monitoring: What’s the difference?

While both flash glucose monitoring (FGM) and continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) provide valuable insights into glucose levels, there are some key differences between the two. Both systems use a small sensor inserted just under the skin to monitor glucose levels, but they differ in how they transmit the data.

CGM systems continuously measure glucose levels and send data to a connected device. This real-time information helps users make immediate adjustments to their diabetes management routine. They also send alerts when glucose levels are lowering and/or are too low. Some CGM systems can communicate to an insulin pump, creating a closed-loop system or “artificial pancreas.”

In contrast, flash glucose monitoring offers on-demand readings. Users need to manually scan the sensor to get their current glucose level, but the sensor itself can be worn for a longer duration compared to some CGM systems. While FGM systems can still send alerts to the user, the frequency of alerts is lower, reducing the likelihood of a 3AM false alarm waking you up.

The choice between CGM and FGM depends on individual preferences and needs. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about your options if you’re unsure which option makes the most sense for you.

How to get coverage for the Freestyle Libre 2 glucose monitor

BC Fair PharmaCare now provides coverage for the Freestyle Libre 2 FGM. The FreeStyle Libre 2 and the Dexcom G6 are both PharmaCare limited coverage benefits that require Special Authority approval for coverage.

Coverage for the FreeStyle Libre 2 will be available to BC residents who:

  • Have type 1 or 2 diabetes 
  • Meet the criteria for Special Authority
  • Are covered by Plan C, F, or W or Fair PharmaCare

Initially, you will get Special Authority approval for one year. After the first year, you can have your prescriber submit a second request. If approved, that approval will last for 5 years.

If you already have PharmaCare coverage for the Dexcom G6, you are automatically eligible for coverage of the FreeStyle Libre 2. This means you do not have to submit a new Special Authority request.

Once approved, you can receive coverage for either the Freestyle Libre 2 FGM or the Dexcom G6 CGM per fill. You cannot receive coverage for both at the same time.

Questions about FGMs, CGMs or diabetes management?

If you have any questions about which type of glucose monitoring is right for you, how to get coverage through Fair PharmaCare in BC or how to best use the CGM or FGM device you already have, ask your pharmacist next time you’re in or get in touch any time.

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