Thousands sign petition against Pharmac plan to change insulin funding

Pharmac has proposed to fund two brands of insulin pumps and a range of continuous glucose...
Pharmac has proposed to fund two brands of insulin pumps and a range of continuous glucose monitors. Photo: Getty Images
An insulin pump used by thousands is losing funding, and a family fears the replacement does not work well enough and they will be forced to fork out tens of thousands of dollars for one that does.

Pharmac has proposed to fund two brands of insulin pumps and a range of continuous glucose monitors.

It estimates about 18,000 New Zealanders living with type 1 diabetes could benefit from the idea.

But it is also proposing to stop funding the Medtronic brand of insulin pump used by 2000 people, and instead a different brand: mylife YpsoPump.

petition to reconsider that has nearly 7000 signatures.

Melanie Swallow, whose 11-year-old daughter has type 1 diabetes, said they had tried most of the systems available, from multiple injections on a daily basis to insulin pump therapy, since she was diagnosed at aged three.

She said the Medtronic brand of insulin pump was "fantastic".

"It has had an incredible impact on her life and the outlook for her long-term health outcomes," she said.

"She sleeps, we sleep.

"Her learning has improved significantly because she now has minimal interruptions at school."

Swallow said she would not consider using the other brands that would be funded, as the only options available either did not work well enough, or were too difficult for a child to use.

She now faces funding the Medtronic pump herself which would cost her about $30,000 over a four year period.

Watch a video that two 11-year-olds with Type 1 diabetes, Emily (right) and Zoe (left) made to Pharmac via Facebook.

Pharmac pharmaceutical funding manager Adrienne Martin said it would love to be able to fund every medicine for every condition, but it was not possible.

She said Pharmac worked with external experts when making these difficult decisions.

Martin said she was particularly keen to hear from people about the impact of moving from the Medtronic to another funded insulin pump.

"We're guided by robust evidence and the expertise of clinicians and the healthcare sector, and wider public."

She said she welcomed all types of feedback to the consultation, including information and personal experiences with different devices, as it would help to inform Pharmac's final decision.

Pharmac has proposed a 12-month transition period to ensure that there is sufficient time and resource to support this change and allow people to consider which of the funded options are right for them.

Consultation closes Friday 26 April.