About $4 million a year will go towards funding insulin pumps for diabetic patients, the Government's drug-buying agency announced today.
Pharmac said the money would fund the Animas 2020 insulin pump on a consistent, nationwide basis.
Pharmac would also change its funding to a new brand of three blood glucose meters and two testing strips.
The CareSens range of products would save Pharmac about $10m, Pharmac spokesman Simon England said.
Patients would notice a difference in the change in product, Mr England said.
"There's three different meters from the CareSens range and they all have slightly different functionality and different sized buttons and different sized read-outs, hopefully that meets the needs of individual patients.
"The price difference per item is relatively small, but the reason why there's a relatively large savings number is because it's a very high-volume product and with quite a large patient population," he said.
At the moment there was not a nationally consistent funding structure for insulin pumps.
"This will be the first time that those pumps are funded on a consistent nationwide basis, so if you meet the entry criteria, and it's aimed at those who really need them ... you will then be able to get a funded insulin pump," Mr England said.
Before now diabetics would buy their own pump and then go to their individual district health boards to request funding for the consumables needed to use the pump.
"[Now] provided you meet the entry criteria you will be able to get that completely funded, including the consumables."
The funding would be phased in over six months, beginning at the start of next month.
Currently-funded products would still be funded until the end of the year, with funding for strips other than the CareSens brand continuing until March 1 next year.
Labour Party Health spokeswoman Maryan Street said Pharmac has embarked on a dangerous course of action, meaning thousands of people will have to switch to new glucose blood meters, disrupting their management of what can be a life-threatening illness.
She said consultation meetings were held around the country at short notice, and diabetics wanted to know why the changes were being made.
"While it's somewhat reassuring that the manufacturers of the meters have now provided a better meter than the one they tendered for - after hearing the complaints from users that the meter on offer had nowhere near the specifications they were used to - the danger of having a sole supplier has still not been addressed," said Ms Street.
"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."
Ms Street said changing meters to measure glucose blood levels would have a major impact on diabetics.
"Let's see the supplier, Pharmac, rise to the challenge of providing full after-sales service, free replacement batteries on request, and education and training for those for whom English is a second language."
She said one worker in the Pacific Island community in Porirua was in tears at the prospect of teaching some of the families she works with how to use a new meter, and how they could get help if she isn't around when they need it.
- APNZBy Kate Shuttleworth @K8Shuttleworth Email Kate, Hana Garrett-Walker Email Hana