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Understanding diabetes medication management

Did you know that one in three Canadians has diabetes or prediabetes and every three minutes another is diagnosed? With numbers increasing at unprecedented rates, it is estimated that by 2026, 14 million Canadians will be living with the disease.1

Medication management and treatment plans can vary depending on the type of diabetes you have. Whether you are managing it through physician-monitored healthy eating and exercise, or through medication and technology, understanding your medication treatment is an important tool in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Type 1 diabetes: If you are a Type 1 diabetic, your pancreas no longer makes insulin and you will need to begin daily insulin treatments immediately. This is done by insulin pens, syringe injections or with an insulin pump.2

Type 2 diabetes: With Type 2 diabetes, your body can’t use its insulin supply properly, or the pancreas isn’t producing enough insulin to be effective. Your physician may advise you to manage your blood sugar levels through healthy eating, physical activity or by taking medication. Since Type 2 is a progressive condition, you may find that your medication needs change over time.3


Insulin is a hormone that your pancreas produces to regulate the amount of sugar (glucose) in your blood. Without insulin, sugar builds up in the bloodstream which can lead to serious health concerns. The types of insulin vary in how long they work, how fast-acting they are, and when they are the most effective. It’s important to have a good understanding of how your insulin works so that you can plan your meals, snacks and activity levels.

Your diabetes health-care team will consider many factors when prescribing insulin. They will look at your goals for treatment, age, lifestyle, general health and how you eat. When using insulin, you will have to check your blood sugar regularly to determine if your insulin level is appropriate. Being able to understand and act on the results of your blood sugar tests will help you keep yourself within range.

There are three methods of delivering insulin to your body:

  • Insulin pens: This device is loaded with a small cartridge that delivers insulin when a needle tip is attached to the end. If you need more than one type of insulin, you will need a separate pen for each type. These are convenient, easy to use and ensures accurate delivery.4  
  • Syringes: These small, fine-tipped needles make injecting insulin as painless as possible. If you require two types of insulin that don’t come in a premixed formula, you can mix the two and give yourself a single injection.5  
  • Pumps: This is the most common delivery system for people who need multiple injections. The device involves a small catheter that is inserted under the skin and a small pump that is worn outside of the body.6

Non-insulin medication

Depending on you and your diabetes, your health-care team may prescribe non-insulin medication to help manage your blood sugar. Did you know that an oral medication called Metformin is available? This drug lowers your body’s glucose production and works to improve your body’s sensitivity to insulin, so that your body can use the insulin it produces more effectively.7

As an RTIP/ARM member, your plan may cover the following diabetic supplies:

  • Needles
  • Syringes
  • Chemical testing reagents (for treating diabetes)
  • Lancets (for treating diabetes)

To learn more about which type of diabetic supplies your RTIP/ARM plan covers, review your benefits booklet or contact OTIP Benefits Services by calling 1-800-267-6847.

1. Diabetes Canada
2. Diabetes Canada
3. Diabetes Canada
4. Diabetes Canada
5. Diabetes Canada
6. Diabetes Canada
7. Mayo Clinic

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