Bovine Insulin is Being Discontinued

This is the way bovine insulin dies – not with a bang but a whimper.

In July, Wockhardt, a UK pharmaceutical company, announced that it was stopping production of its Hypurin bovine-based insulin; there doesn’t appear to be another producer of the insulin formulation in the world. The company stated that it was shutting down production because it could no longer find a raw supply of materials needed for manufacturing the insulin; they warned that those who still used the product would need to switch to another insulin formulation as soon as possible.

Wockhardt lists six formulations for its bovine-based insulin. November 2017 marks the first date that the company predicts the backstock of one of the formulations will be depleted. By April 2019, the backstock for all six formulations will be depleted, according to the website. Wockhardt has pledged that it will still continue to manufacture Hypurin porcine-based insulin for the foreseeable future.

It’s an ignoble end for what was once the only option for insulin. Dr. Frederick Banting and Charles Best first utilized dog insulin for their groundbreaking research into insulin therapy, but they then switched to bovine pancreases to mass-produce insulin. Bovine insulin reigned supreme for several decades before facing competition first from porcine insulin and then from human-DNA-based synthetic insulin, according to Diapedia.

It’s unclear how many customers may be affected by the announcement. The vast majority of those with diabetes on insulin therapy use synthetic insulin formulations, which generally are absorbed faster and cause fewer allergic reactions than animal-based insulin. However, bovine insulin and porcine insulin have been important options for the few who have allergic responses to synthetic insulin formulations.

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Craig Idlebrook is a past editor for Insulin Nation, Type 2 Nation, and Información Sobre Diabetes. He is now the community engagement and content manager for T1D Exchange.

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