Diabetes New Zealand accuses Pharmac of 'procrastinating' over funding 'life-changing' diabetes monitoring system

A new glucose monitor for diabetics is being labelled "life-changing" but it'll only be available to those that can afford it.

The disadvantage that poses for people that cannot afford it has sparked accusations from Diabetes New Zealand which say Pharmac is procrastinating over funding decisions.

Thirteen-year-old Sam Burrow was diagnosed with type one diabetes five years ago. 

"It's quite like stressful, because you have to think about it 24/7."

Otherwise, her blood sugar levels could get dangerously low.

"You can faint and go into a coma."

So every hour or two, day and night, her finger would need pricking to check the levels, something her mum, Amanda Burrow, said was exhausting. 

"Very little sleep. As soon as something went wrong you'd be up for an hour making sure everything got back to normal again."

But a continuous glucose monitor has changed all that. Sam now uses her phone to scan the FreeStyle Libre 2 device, and it displays her blood sugar levels. 

The company has just released a new monitor with new technology that can automatically alert Sam when her glucose levels need changing.

"It's life-changing. Being able to sleep more, sleep is a good thing!" Amanda said.

But it costs $50 a week, and to pay for it the Burrow family has had to delay their plans of buying a home.

"It's been quite tough, just finding the money," Amanda told Newshub. 

About 25,000 Kiwis would benefit from the glucose monitor, and endocrinologist Dr Rosemary Hall said that's growing.

"Everyone is susceptible to getting type one diabetes, and we are seeing an increasing number."

The device is funded in the UK and Australia, but not here, which Diabetes New Zealand chief executive Heather Verry said is disappointing. 

"We would like Pharmac to stop procrastinating and fund this product. It's actually time because the economics stack up for it. It's a no-brainer, it stops hospitalisations and sick leave."

But Pharmac's Lisa Williams said its clinical advisors have recommended that it should be funded in New Zealand, and it's on the "options for investment" list. 

"We'll never have enough money to fund everything so we have to make choices - and when we have [the] sufficient budget available it would be a product that we want to fund."

The Government's budget boost for Pharmac last year was the largest in history - $191 million. 

However, doctors are keen to see targeted funding for diabetics so that more Kiwis can benefit from continuous glucose monitors.

"This requires some extra government funding," Dr Hall said. 

Funding that could reduce stress for families living with diabetes.