Plans by Pharmac, the Government's drug-buying agency, to change its funding of contraceptives have been dropped because of concern that women who had to switch brands would become confused.

Pharmac's medical director, Peter Moodie, said yesterday that 30 brands of contraceptive were on the market, divided into seven groups based on their chemical makeup, and fully or partly funded by Pharmac.

To save several million dollars a year, the agency had proposed to open the categories up for tender and provide full funding for only one drug in each group - the lowest bidder.

The losing bidders would not have received any Pharmac funding and might have decided to stop offering their product. Women using those brands would have needed to change to the fully subsidised product.