Blood Glucose Test Strips - Annual Limits

PharmaCare limits the number of blood glucose test strips it covers for a patient each calendar year. The amount is based on the diabetes treatment they are receiving.

Research shows that most people with type 2 diabetes who are not using insulin do not need to test their blood sugar routinely. There is little evidence that frequent self-monitoring of blood glucose, without a medically valid reason, improves diabetes care.

Most people can test at the recommended frequency within the new limits. If you should need more than the annual limit, see What if I need to test more often? 

Note: in the table below, If you are in more than one category, and not using a CGM, the higher limit applies.

Annual limits

Treatment Category

Notes

Annual Limit

With insulin and without the use of a continuous glucose monitor (CGM)

If you take insulin and are not also using a CGM, this limit applies whether or not you are also taking other diabetes medications.

3,000

With insulin and with the use of a CGM If a you are using a CGM, you may also occasionally need blood glucose test strips (for example, if you see an error code on you CGM or if your symptoms don’t match your CGM readings). 200

Anti-hyperglycemic medications with a higher risk of causing hypoglycemia

Drugs with a higher risk of hypoglycemia include insulin secretagogues:

  • Sulfonylureas such as glyburide, and
  • Eglitinides such as repaglinide

400

Anti-hyperglycemic medications with a lower risk of causing hypoglycemia

Drugs with a lower risk of hypoglycemia include:

  • Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors such as acarbose
  • Biguanides such as metformin
  • Dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors such as linagliptin
  • Incretin mimetics/glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1) agonists such as semaglutide
  • Sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors such as empagliflozin, and
  • Thiazolidinediones (TZDs) such as pioglitazone

200

Through diet/lifestyle

-

200

Each time you pick up a prescription, your pharmacy records it in PharmaNet. PharmaNet is a computer network where all prescriptions filled in B.C. are recorded.  PharmaNet determines the proper test strip limit. If your treatment changes, PharmaNet automatically updates your annual limit of test strips.

Each time you buy test strips, the number of strips you bought will be deducted from your annual limit in PharmaNet. Your pharmacist can advise you if you have exceeded your limit. You can also contact us at the number below to find out how many strips you have left for the year.

Pay attention to expiry dates. Make sure you don’t buy strips that will expire before you can use them.

How often you should test your blood glucose levels

If you aren’t taking insulin, you should test your blood sugar levels only when you have a reason to test.

Your doctor and diabetes educator can answer your questions. There are also helpful online resources:

If you need to test more often

In certain circumstances, you may need to test more often.

Your doctor—or a health professional at a diabetes education centre—can send a request to PharmaCare for coverage of additional strips if you are not using insulin or are using a CGM and you have:

  • Not met blood sugar level targets, as determined by a physician, for three months or more
  • An acute illness or other condition that may affect your blood glucose control
  • Had changes in your drug therapy that may affect your blood glucose control (such as starting or stopping medications that induce hypo- or hyperglycemia)
  • A job where hypoglycemia presents a significant safety risk (e.g., pilots, air traffic controllers, commercial drivers)
  • Gestational diabetes

Children under a Nursing Support Service using a CGM may qualify for additional strips. Your physician can submit the request to PharmaCare for additional strips at the same time that coverage for the CGM is requested.

Note: In the rare case that you have a medical need to test even more frequently, or if you take insulin and need to test more frequently, your endocrinologist can submit a request to PharmaCare for additional strips. Requests are considered on a case-by-case basis.