Some of the 200,000 New Zealanders living with diabetes are concerned about a decision to change to a sole supplier for glucose meters.
Pharmac has confirmed its supply of life-saving blood glucose meters and test strips will now come from one Korean supplier, saving $10 million.
From September, Pharmac will drop its funding of some blood glucose meters in favour of three new meters sourced from the single supplier called CareSens.
Diabetes New Zealand says it's an "untenable risk".
"We did express in our original submission some concerns about sole supply," said Hayden Vink of Diabetes Youth New Zealand.
Pharmac chief executive Steffan Crausaz says stocks of the new meters will be maintained.
"The contract arrangement that we have does require them to hold significant stocks within New Zealand and gives us plenty of buffer to ensure we continue to supply our patients. So there'll be plenty of supply within New Zealand," Crausaz said.
Pharmac says the savings will go towards new insulin pumps and cancer treatments.
Decision 'set to be a disaster'
However, Labour's health spokesperson Maryan Street says Pharmac
has embarked on a dangerous course in order to save $10 million,
"presumably at the instruction of the Government" with its decision
to contract to a sole supplier.
Thousands of people will have to switch to new glucose blood meters, disrupting their current management of what can be a life-threatening illness, Street said.
She said it is somewhat reassuring that the manufacturers of the meters have now provided a better meter than the one they tendered for, after hearing complaints from users that the meter on offer had nowhere near the specifications they were used to.
But the danger of having a sole supplier has still not been
addressed, she said.
"Pharmac makes a big deal of the fact that diabetics will have a choice of three meters under this new regime. They had a similar choice under the previous one.
"What Pharmac's spin can't hide is the impact that changing a meter will have on those whose lives depend on it."
Street is calling on the supplier Pharmaco to provide full
after-sales service, free replacement batteries on request, and
education and training for those for whom English is a second
Pharmac says Quick Guides for the CareSens range of meters will be available in 13 other languages.