Blood glucose testing

Last updated on January 31, 2024

BC 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.

The annual limits provide enough strips to account for normal variations in self-monitoring necessitated by common health changes (e.g., colds, influenza).

On this page: Annual limits | What if more frequent testing is warranted? | Patient resources | Related links

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 without a medically valid reason improves diabetes care.

Annual test strip limits
Treatment for managing diabetes Notes Annual  limit
With insulin and without the use of a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) nor a flash glucose monitor (FGM) If a patient takes insulin and is not also using a CGM nor an FGM, this limit applies whether or not they are also taking other diabetes medications. 3,000
With insulin and with the use of a CGM/FGM If a patient uses a CGM/FGM, they may also occasionally need blood glucose test strips. For example, if they see an error code on their CGM/FGM or if their symptoms don’t match their CGM/FGM readings. 200
Anti-hyperglycemic medications with a higher risk of causing hypoglycemia Drugs with a higher risk of hypoglycemia include insulin secretagogues (e.g., sulfonylureas such as glyburide and meglitinides 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
  • Glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists such as tirzepatide
  • Incretin mimetics/glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1) agonists such as semaglutide
  • Sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors such as empagliflozin
  • Thiazolidinediones (TZDs) such as pioglitazone
Through diet/lifestyle No notes. 200

Important: If a patient belongs to more than one category, and is not using a CGM/FGM, the higher limit will apply. 

If more frequent testing is warranted

In certain circumstances, more testing is warranted, resulting in a need for more strips than a patient's annual limit.

If a patient meets one of the criteria below and is not on insulin or is a patient using a CGM/FGM, PharmaCare covers 100 extra strips per year, with a Special Authority request from a prescriber or health professional at a diabetes education centre or authorized primary care network. 

Criteria for additional test strips

Patient has:

  • Not met glycemic targets, as determined by a physician, for three months or more
  • An acute illness or co-morbidities, which may impact blood glucose control
  • Had changes in drug therapy that may impact blood glucose control (e.g., starting or stopping medications that induce hypo- or hyperglycemia, drug-to-drug or drug-disease interactions)
  • A job where hypoglycemia presents a significant safety risk (e.g., pilots, air traffic controllers, commercial drivers)
  • Gestational diabetes

Additional test strips for a pediatric patient under Nursing Support Services using a CGM/FGM may be requested at the time of initial CGM/FGM request or with a CGM/FGM renewal request (using the CGM/FGM Special Authority request form).

Note: In the rare case that a patient has a medical need for even more frequent testing, or when a patient on insulin needs to test more frequently, an endocrinologist may submit a written request to PharmaCare for additional strips. Requests are considered on a case-by-case basis. The letter should outline the need for the additional strips and the quantity required.

Resources for your patients

  • Diabetes Canada
    • Blood sugar testing
    • Monitoring blood pressure and foot health
    • Developing an action plan