Healthy living

Diabetes drug facing axe

Diabetes drug facing axe Tens of thousands of people affected

High ranking doctors and academics have condemned a pharmaceutical company's decision to withdraw from sale an insulin product used by an estimated 90,000 people in the UK.

In a letter to the Daily Telegraph experts called on manufacturer Novo Nordisk to reverse its decision to withdraw Mixtard 30 from sale by the end of this year, saying the move will “adversely affect the wellbeing of many people with diabetes and add millions to NHS costs.”

Mixtard 30 is a type of synthetic insulin, recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) as a treatment of choice for people with diabetes who are dependent on insulin.

Worryingly for the government, the drug to which patients will be asked to switch is much more expensive. A straight switch from Mixtard 30 to NovoMix 30 for all patients in England alone would add an estimated £9 million to the NHS drugs bill.

The figure does not take into account additional costs to the NHS, including the need to review many thousands of patients to switch treatment, some of whom will need many months to adapt to an alternative insulin.

One of the letter's signatories, Dr Ike Iheanacho, editor of Drugs and Therapeutics Bulletin (DTB), said: "The new drugs do not offer any advantage over conventional human insulins in terms of efficacy, long-term outcomes or safety.

A DTB online petition against the withdrawl of Mixtard 30 has already been signed by more than 1,000 doctors and patients.

“We are alarmed by Novo Nordisk’s attitude to people with diabetes who rely on Mixtard 30. We urge the company to reverse a decision that is simply not in the interests of patients, healthcare professionals or the NHS,” the letter concluded.

This article was published on Mon 1 November 2010

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