The health of thousands of people around Parramatta and Blacktown will be at risk if the federal government removes a vital diabetes treatment from the Pharmaceuticals Benefit Scheme.
Doctors say type 2 diabetes is endemic in western Sydney, with 9,450 registered patients in the federal Parramatta electorate alone.
Yet as Prime Minister Julia Gillard spruiks for votes in the west, her government is reviewing whether blood glucose test strips for type two diabetics should remain subsidised on the PBS.
Toongabbie doctor Shanthini Seelan said at least 500 of his diabetic patients would be worse off if the test strips were removed from the subsidy scheme.
‘‘Type two diabetes has become endemic, especially in western Sydney,’’ he said.
‘‘I think, for a lot of people on pensions or unemployment, if this (treatment) is not completely subsidised then they’re going to have difficulty treating their condition.
‘‘They may not be able to buy those strips and monitor their health at home and will have and adverse effect on diabetes control.
Chief executive of the Australian Diabetes Council Nicola Stokes said removing the subsidy could have detrimental health effects for more than a million people Australia-wide.
‘‘Cutting the PBS subsidy for glucose monitoring strips would be a disaster for the more than one million Australians who rely on the strips to manage their type 2 diabetes,’’ she said.
‘‘Many people use these strips to keep an eye on their blood sugar levels – without the PBS subsidy it would become unaffordable for many people with diabetes especially those on lower incomes or on pensions,” she said.
Greenway MP Michelle Rowland said the federal government had little control over the independent review.
But Ms Rowland said she had told Health Minister Tanya Pilbersek a cut to the subsidy would be detrimental to people in western Sydney.
■50 blood-glucose test strips under the PBS scheme cost $7.80;
■National Diabetes Service Scheme registrants with a health care card pay $2.40, while pensioners and veterans pay $1.20.
■The price for 50 blood glucose test strips without a PBS subsidy is $21.62;