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My endocrinologist recently told me that animal insulin will be discontinued (soon, but no date provided). I called both Lilly and Novo, and they stated that they have no plans to discontinue animal insulin. Is there other information that suggests we will all use human insulin soon? Is my physician simply referring to a formulary change in my medical plan? I find animal insulin to be about 25% more potent than human equivalents.


As best as I can determine, animal-based insulin will not be taken off the market. Perhaps the endocrinologist was referring to the greater use of man-made insulins eventually replacing animal-based products. There is nothing in the literature that I've seen about animal-based products being withdrawn at this time.


Additional comments from Dr. Quick:

There's been lots of speculation that the animal-source insulins will gradually be phased out, as it's becoming more cost-effective for the insulin manufacturers to produce semi-synthetic (recombinant DNA) human insulin then to depend on animal slaughterhouses. For instance, Novo discontinued the production of animal-based Ultralente, leaving only Lilly's human version of Ultralente in the United States market. But I too, can't recall seeing an official announcement that all animal-source insulins will definitely be discontinued.


[Editor's comment: The Compassionate Use Project seeks to convince Eli Lilly to continue production of animal source insulin. Also, see the October 1998 issue of Diabetes Interview for more information. JSH]

Original posting 3 Oct 1998
Posted to Insulin


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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:09:00
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