PharmaCare Quantity Limits for Blood Glucose Test Strips (effective January 1, 2015)

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Why were quantity limits set?

PharmaCare limits the number of blood glucose test strips it covers for a patient each calendar year.

If you have type 2 diabetes and do not use insulin, research shows that testing your blood sugar more often than recommended brings limited benefit.

Most people can test at the recommended frequency within the new limits. If you should need more than the annual limit of test strips, see What if I need to test more often? for information on whether you qualify for coverage of more strips.

How is my annual limit determined?

Your annual limit depends on the type of diabetes treatment you are receiving.

Treatment Category


Annual Quantity Limit

Managing diabetes with insulin

If a patient takes insulin, this higher limit applies whether or not they are also taking other diabetes medications.


Managing diabetes with anti-diabetes medications with a high risk of causing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)

Drugs with a higher risk of hypoglycemia include insulin secretagogues

Examples: glicazide (Diamicron®), glimepiride (Amaryl®), glyburide (DiaBeta®), nateglinide (Starlix®), repaglinide (Gluconorm®).


Managing diabetes with anti-diabetes medications with a low risk of causing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)

Drugs with a lower risk of hypoglycemia such as non-insulin secretagogues.

Examples: acarbose (Glucobay®), exenatide (Byetta®), linagliptin (Trajenta™, liraglutide (Victoza®), long acting metformin (Glumetza®), metformin (Glucophage®), saxagliptin (onglyza®), sitalgliptin (Januvia®)


Managing diabetes through diet/lifestyle



Important: If a patient is on more than one treatment for diabetes, the higher limit always applies.

How will PharmaCare know which category I am in?

Each time you pick up a prescription, your pharmacy records the information in computer network called PharmaNet. Based on this information, PharmaNet determines how your diabetes is being treated and applies the proper test strip limit. Each time you buy test strips, PharmaNet checks that you are still in the correct category. If your category changes, your annual limit for test strips is automatically updated.

How will PharmaCare know if I reach the limit?

Each time you buy test strips, the number of strips you buy is deducted from your yearly limit in the PharmaNet system. Your pharmacist can advise you if you have exceeded your limit. You can also contact Health Insurance BC to find out how many strips you have bought during the year.

Do I need to pay attention to expiry dates?

Yes. To make the best use of your annual allowance for strips, make sure the expiry date on the strips you buy is far enough in the future.

How often should I usually test my blood glucose level?

You should test your blood sugar levels only when you have a reason to test - that is, "test with purpose."

Along with your doctor and diabetes educator, there are many online resources to help you determine how often you need to test. Here are other resources you may find helpful:

Diabetes Canada: Diabetes and You

Links to various resources on diabetes in general and management.

Diabetes Canada: Take Charge

Created with leading health-care experts, this site offers online tools to help you find the best blood sugar testing pattern, to learn about monitoring blood pressure and foot health, and to develop an action plan.

Diabetes Canada: Self-Monitoring of Blood Glucose Interactive Tool


Use this handy tool to determine the best testing pattern for you.

PharmaCare Blood Glucose Testing for Type 2 Diabetes -Information Sheet

PharmaCare Patient Information page

Available in multiple languages, this information sheet offers information on when you might want to check your blood sugar levels. It also offers tips on managing type 2 diabetes.

What if I 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 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); or
  • gestational diabetes.

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.

Where can I get more information on how the policy affects me?

For information on your annual limit, you can call Health Insurance BC.