Changes to access to blood glucose test strips

Information relating to the changes to access to blood glucose test strips

Page last updated: 11 January 2017

The Australian Government has introduced changes to the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) to ensure people living with diabetes can continue to access the products they need as well as ensuring the ongoing sustainability of the NDSS. This includes changes to access to subsidised blood glucose test strips.

If a doctor, credentialed diabetes educator, or nurse practitioner wants their patient to use blood glucose test strips in managing their diabetes, they will be able to access them from the NDSS.

Access to Blood Glucose Test Strips Through the NDSS

  • People with type 2 diabetes not using insulin will receive an initial six month supply of subsidised blood glucose test strips under the NDSS. This means registrants will be able to access blood glucose test strips, as required, over a six month period, starting any time on or after 1 July 2016.
  • After six months, registrants will be able to continue to access subsidised test strips if their doctor, nurse practitioner or credentialed diabetes educator considers that there is a clinical need for them to continue to monitor their blood glucose levels.
  • The initial six month access period applies to both new and existing NDSS registrants. Where a registrant has been accessing test strips for several years, their six month initial access period will commence from their first order of test strips on or after 1 July 2016.
  • These changes to do not affect individuals who use insulin, women with gestational diabetes and those registered through the NDSS as having ‘other diabetes’.
  • Individuals with type 2 diabetes, who are not using insulin, but who have an inter-current illness or are taking medicines which adversely impact blood glucose control, will be able to access blood glucose test strips through the NDSS if an authorised health professional considers it clinically necessary, and signs a Blood Glucose Test Strip Six Month Approval Form.

Why are these changes being implemented?

  • This change follows the independent advice of the expert Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) which recommended restrictions to access to blood glucose test strips based on research including the results of a Post Market Review on products used in the management of diabetes which found there is limited evidence that self-monitoring of blood glucose improves blood glucose control, quality of life or long-term complications in people with type 2 diabetes who are not using insulin.
  • As a result, the PBAC recommended more targeted use of test strips for people with type 2 diabetes to ensure that test strips are being used in the most appropriate way.
  • A copy of the final report of the Post Market Review is available on the PBS website.

Removal of Blood Glucose Test Strips from the PBS

  • Before 1 July 2016, blood glucose test strips were available through both the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and the NDSS. From 1 July 2016, all blood glucose test strips were delisted (removed) from the PBS. Blood glucose test strips remain available through the NDSS and people with diabetes have continued access through the NDSS.
  • The types of blood glucose test strips available under the NDSS are the same as those previously available under the PBS.
  • The registrant copayment for blood glucose test strips through the NDSS has not changed and this copayment is lower than the copayment that was payable through the PBS arrangements, as indicated in the table below:

Comparative Cost of Blood Glucose Test Strips – PBS / NDSS

Quantity of 100 test strips2016 PBS price with a prescription2017 NDSS price
Commonwealth concession card holder$6.20$2.60
Pension card holder$6.20$1.30
General patient (no concession card)$38.30$16.70

Continued Access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are currently eligible for a lower copayment, or no copayment, under the Closing the Gap arrangements will continue to receive similar subsidisation under the NDSS.
  • NDSS products, including blood glucose test strips, will continue to be provided to Remote Area Aboriginal Health Services and remote clinics. A factsheet detailing NDSS access arrangements for rural and remote areas is available.

Access for non-diabetic patients

  • In certain circumstances, the NDSS does allow for individuals that have been diagnosed with specific conditions other than type 1, type 2 or gestational diabetes to be registered on the NDSS in the category of ‘other diabetes’.
  • In these cases, Diabetes Australia, which assists in the administration of the NDSS, obtains relevant clinical information from the applicant, as required, to determine if the applicant is eligible to be registered with the NDSS (under the category of ‘other diabetes’).

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the reason for these new restrictions on blood glucose test strips?

An independent review of products used in the management of diabetes found that there is limited evidence that self-monitoring of blood glucose improves blood glucose control, quality of life or long-term complications in people with type 2 diabetes who are not using insulin. As a result, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) recommended more targeted use of test strips for people with type 2 diabetes to ensure that test strips are being used in the most appropriate way.

A copy of the final report of the review is available on the PBS website.

Q. How do I access more blood glucose test strips after six months?

If you need to continue to monitor after your initial six month supply for health reasons, you will need a signed form from your doctor, nurse practitioner or credentialed diabetes educator to access subsidised blood glucose test strips.

It’s a good idea to speak with your health professional before the initial six month access period expires if you feel that you qualify for ongoing access.

The health professional will assess whether there is a clinical need for ongoing monitoring and whether you meet specific criteria required for additional access. There are no limits on the number of times access can be granted as long as you continue to meet the specified criteria.

Q. Is there a form that my doctor or authorised health professional needs to fill out for me to access blood glucose test strips?


There is a standard form to approve further access to blood glucose test strips available to all doctors and authorised health professionals via the NDSS website. This form can be accessed on the NDSS website.

You will need to take this completed form to the community pharmacy (or other NDSS access point) before additional subsidised products can be provided to you.

Q. When does the initial six month supply start?

The initial six month supply of subsidised test strips starts from the first time you buy products on or after 1 July 2016. An access form is not required for this initial access period. For example, if you purchase blood glucose test strips in May 2016 and then purchase again in August 2016, the six month supply period will be from the date of your August supply as this was after 1 July 2016.

Q. I don’t test every day, but test when I need to because things are changing. Will I still be able to access these products?

If you have a clinical need identified by a doctor or other authorised health professional, you will continue to have access to subsidised blood glucose test strips.

Q. Who can I see to get approval for additional blood glucose test strips? Does it have to be a GP?

If you are registered on the NDSS you can automatically access an initial six month supply of blood glucose test strips from 1 July 2016 and you will not need an access form for this supply.

After this six month period, a doctor, nurse practitioner or credentialed diabetes educator will determine if you need to continue to use subsidised blood glucose test strips under the NDSS.

Note that these restrictions only apply to people with type 2 diabetes who are not using insulin.

Q. I have type 1 diabetes. Can I still access subsidised blood glucose test strips?

Yes. Access to blood glucose test strips will not change for:
  • people with type 1 diabetes
  • people with type 2 diabetes who are using insulin
  • women with gestational diabetes

Q. Will Indigenous Australians accessing blood glucose test strips under the Closing the Gap arrangements and through Remote Area Aboriginal Health Services continue to have access to blood glucose test strips?

Yes. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are currently eligible for a lower copayment, or no copayment, under the Closing the Gap arrangements will continue to receive similar subsidisation under the NDSS.

If you are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Australian who normally accesses blood glucose test strips on prescription you will need to become an NDSS registrant by contacting Diabetes Australia on 1300 136 588.

If you need an immediate supply of test strips you should take your prescription with you and speak to your NDSS community pharmacist (or other NDSS access point contact). They will be able to provide you with blood glucose test strips (during your visit) and submit your registration form on your behalf to Diabetes Australia. Once you are registered, Diabetes Australia will issue you with a registration card which you can use to purchase eligible NDSS products from NDSS community pharmacies in the future.

NDSS products, including blood glucose test strips, will continue to be provided to Remote Area Aboriginal Health Services and remote clinics.