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November 14, 2021 is World Diabetes Day and marks the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin

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Diabetes is a condition that impacts over 3 million Canadians. That is approximately 8.8% of the population, further, it is estimated that 6.1% of the Canadian adult population are at high risk of developing diabetes. (1)

Diabetes is so prevalent in the Canadian population that both Diabetes Canada and the government of Canada have announced strategies to help battle this silent epidemic. This condition also had a drastic impact on our economies.

Statistics from 2019 show that in Ontario 4 in 10 people who have been touched by diabetes have missed work. Diabetes has a dramatic impact on absenteeism in the economy. These individuals have missed, on average, a week's worth of work. It is also estimated that treating the disease in Ontario in 2019 was $1.5 billion. (2)

For Canadians, the cost of diabetes is about 27% of the average annual income. A significant spend for someone with no coverage, for those with private insurance coverage, is the out-of-pocket expense for type 2 diabetes in $2,529-$2,868 and type 1 diabetes between $531-5,264. (3) Private insurers have shown that the diabetes category has been in their top spend year over year. Specifically, the Express Scripts Canada public reports state that as per their adjudication claims, it has been the second-highest spend, only overshadowed by inflammatory conditions that are often treated with high-cost specialty medication (4).

As our country's population ages, will we be able to sustain the costs of this epidemic? What does this mean to us as healthcare providers? What I see is a gap and a need to look at proactive health—looking to support patients headed towards being diagnosed with diabetes or any who have risk factors that may predispose them to diabetes. As we come to a close on the 100-year celebration of the discovery of insulin and towards diabetes awareness month, it seems an appropriate time to reflect on what the next steps will need to be to support our patients who may have diabetes.

(1) Government of Canada announces new investment in diabetes research -

(2) New Data Shows Diabetes Rates And Economic Burden On Families Continue To Rise In Ontario - Diabetes Canada

(3) What Is the Monthly Cost of Insulin in Canada? (

(4) Express Scripts Canada | Leader in health benefits management (


Pavithra Ravinatarajan RPh is the founder and CEO of Pavithra Consulting Inc.

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