Animal insulin. Anyone?

I was diagnosed back in 1979 and back then, animal insulin was the only choice. I’m still on pork insulin now (although thanks to novo nordisk withdrawing theirs I’ve had to switch to a different brand) and don’t want to change thanks to having 0 complications after nearly 30 years of type 1 but I’m worried about drug companies withdrawing their support for animal insulin completely.

Does anyone else on here still use animal insulin or is it just me?!

Forgive me if you are already a fan, but check out She has written a lot about the use of animal insulin. I think it is a shame that the consumer is losing it’s right to choose.

I didn’t even realize you could still get pork insulin. I was diagnosed in 1985 and was on pork insulin until about 1994-1995 when my pharmacist informed me about the changes and I went on r-DNA generated insulin. Sorry I can’t answer your question, it just brought back many memories!!!

You can still buy it, but its not cheap and the FDA and USDA make it difficult (though not impossible) to import it. If you’re in the U.S., the easiest way is to buy it from Canada, as they sell it directly online and don’t even require a prescription, and thanks to NAFTA, there aren’t quarantine requirements, either. Check out, as you can buy it online there. It is imported from the U.K., so the price is very costly thanks to the weak dollar (now around $131 per vial). However, if you’re in Europe, the cost issue is less significant. As a more cost effective alternative, you may wish to consider buying it from Poland (many Swiss and Germans buy Polish insulin, particularly Semilente, as only 1 company still makes that type of insulin anywhere and they’re in Poland) or Argentina, as both countries have their own manufacturers (China does too, but I wouldn’t trust the quality … just my own opinion here … but you might just find Wanbang’s porcine insulin in many Chinatown’s across the world if you speak Mandarin, it might help) – the main issue being that I haven’t yet found any retailers willing to sell it in Poland or Argentina … yet. However, Poland’s Polfa Tarchomin also sells insulin in Costa Rica, so you might have better luck dealing with a Costa Rican pharmacy for their insulin. Also check out the website for more information on this subject, and more details will be included when new providers become available.

Sorry, I forgot to mention I’m from the UK which means I can still get pork insulin free on prescription (I use Wockhardt’s Hypurin Neutral and Isophane). Doctors here have been trying to get me to move over to human (GM) insulin for the last 10 years due to pressure from drug companies who are trying to ditch it but I’ve successfully resisted changing as, as far as I’m concerned “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”!!!

Another reason why I want to stick with the pork is that I went over to Australia for a year after graduating from University and was forced to use the human equivalents of what I was on at the time as they don’t have any animal insulin over there. During the time I was on the human (GM) insulin, I lost all warning symptoms of hypos and my control was all over the place so on my return to the UK I went straight back to my old pork insulin and my control came back and my hypo warning symptoms returned.

Anyway, fingers crossed Wockhardt will keep producing their pork insulin for as long as I’m alive. It’s scary when you think that our lives are effectively reliant on the drug companies being able to make a profit - Novo Nordisk withdrew their animal insulin because they weren’t making enough money on it worldwide which meant I had to find another supplier with an equivalent insulin. This meant months of dosage adjusting, testing, lows and highs until I found the right dose using the new insulin - so thanks for that Novo Nordisk!!!

Consider yourself lucky that you have a ready supply available in your country! Many people around the world, including Germany and Switzerland, must rely upon a single chemist to supply it for them because synthetic insulin is the only product available in their country, and in the U.S. we don’t even have a domestic retailer or manufacturer available. The last domestic manufacturer was Idexx, a supplier who served the veterinary market, just withdrew its product because they were unable to purchase the insulin crystals domestically (although they could easily buy them from Schering-Plough, only it would be made in the Netherlands and they ran into regulatory issues from the FDA and decided it wasn’t worth the effort). The good news, however, is that there is an effort to re-establish a domestic supplier in Germany, and in the U.S., studies are underway to compare synthetic vs. animal sources to determine whether they deliver really comparable glycemic control and have the same safety record; ironically, such studies have never been undertaken, and numerous studies have found that the clinical trial results done had numerous flaws. When those studies are done, there may be an effort to re-establish a domestic supplier.

I am wondering if there is any way to get injections of CPeptide, which has been removed during the manufacturing process when creating human insulins. I am also wondering if outside sources of CPeptide help prevent complications or if some CPeptide production must still take place within the child/adult’s body in order to prevent complications. I have read this about pork vs. human insulin before re hypoglycemic unawareness. Found a company called “Creative Peptide” seeking to manufacture and bring to market CPeptide replacement. Since we are not positive that CPeptides prevent complications long-term, I would still like to replace the CPeptide if available and not harmful. Just to hedge all bets. I believe the missing CPeptide from human insulin could be a potential problem.

C-Peptide is not currently available as a treatment – it is considered “experimental” (ironic, considering it is produced in a healthy body) and is therefore not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration except in a clinical trial setting (I’m not aware of any clinical trials presently going on in the U.S. – there are a few in Europe). It is worth noting that about 15 years ago, Eli Lilly and Company did research into the possibility of selling biosynthetic (e.g. made from recombinant DNA) proinsulin, the precursor to biosynthetic human insulin before the C-Peptide is removed. Ultimately, the company never pursued it. I suspect the reason had more to do with the FDA’s adherence to using HbA1c as a “surrogate” for patient outcomes … in other words, if it does not demonstrate material improvements in HbA1c, then the FDA is less likely to approve it regardless of any additional benefits a diabetes therapy may have. This is why I recently submitted
on the FDA’s current Draft Guidance for Diabetes Medicines and Biopharmaceuticals, but whether the FDA considers my comments remains to be seen.

By the way, there is another alternative in Europe, which is to buy insulin made by Polfa Tarchomin in Poland. That company continues to make porcine insulin (as well as biosynthetic insulin) and they make regular, Lente and Semilente varieties, with the latter two not currently made by Wockhardt’s U.K. division.

Scott, I just wanted to clarify the issue of proinsulin as a therapeutic compound. You’re right, recombinant human proinsulin was investigated as a substitution for insulin in the 70’s and 80’s. It had pharmacokinetics and dynamics similar to pure pork NPH (convenient analogy for this discussion).

The reason for halting the clinical trials of proinsulin were not related to its efficacy - it actually worked very well to lower blood glucose - it was due to an excess of cardiovascular events. In a relatively few number of patients, there were 6 heart attacks and 2 deaths in patients taking proinsulin. In light of the safety questions, combined with a feeling that it offered nothing novel, compared to the available insulins already in production, trials were abandoned. There was a really nice review of proinsulin in Diabetes Care, unfortunately, it is old enough that it was before pdf’s. :frowning:

Galloway JA, Hooper SA, Spradlin CT, Howey DC, Frank BH, Bowsher RR…

Maybe if Creative Peptide is successful in bringing CPeptide to the European market replacement may eventually be available in the U.S.? I feel quite certain she no longer produces CPeptide as her insulin needs and ICR are a lot higher than some of the other children her age or older on CWD forum. I guess hope springs eternal and I am hoping she and others do produce insulin but that the beta cells wipe out immediately as Faustman claims. The article I read on CPeptide preventing long-term complications immediately brought to my mind my neice’s friend’s grandmother, Type 1 since the age of 5, and completely healthy. She uses only 10 units of NPH a day! She controls her carbs breakfast and lunch and only eats normal amount of carbs with her dinner, kind of a semi-Bernstein regime. She does use insulin to cover those carbs in addition to the 10 NPH units. An endo questioned her using such a small amount, increased her dose and she ended up in the Emergency Room (in her 30s). So it is clear to me that a lot of people are still producing some insulin. We are up to 50 units a day here, 1:8 and 1:10 but as I say, hope springs eternal, LOL.

I am not using animal insulin, but I was looking into it because the synthesized insulin uses a toxic industrial solvent as a preservative, and I don’t really want to inject that into my body. Do you get much bruising with pork insulin? I wonder if the synthetic insulin causes more tissue damage…

I don’t get much bruising using pork insulin, although I do still use hypodermic “old school” (!) syringes so I guess I might get more bruising than those using pens? I haven’t really got anyone to compare it to though as I don’t know anyone else with Type 1 (well, other than on here that is!!).

Thanks, I recall reading that before … the issue I have with any preclinical trial which relies on such a small base of people is because they really cannot be relied upon to make any decisions, yet that was sufficient to pull the plug in this case. One issue I suspect may be the biosynthetic means of manufacture which is notoriously difficult to control. Recently, FDA rejected Genzyme Corp.'s request for permission to sell in the U.S. a version of its Pompe disease drug, called Myozyme, made at the company’s Allston, Massachusetts manufacturing plant. Presently, the company can only make this drug at a smaller facility in Framingham, Massachusetts. The FDA ruled that any Myozyme made at the second plant should be considered a different product because of small differences in its chemical structure, and in order to receive FDA approval, the company needs to file another application with new data showing the drug is safe and effective in large numbers of patients. That means costly clinical trials and a lengthy approval process for the company. This raises questions about whether the FDA should have made it so easy for insulin manufacturers to outsource manufacturing of biosynthetic insulin to third parties (see my post here for details).

Hi Sam Innocent (and everyone) ,
I live in Canada where our options for animal insulin have been reduced to two types (pork isophane, pork neutral) and it is very expensive (the equivalent of about £50-£60). A group of us here are working very hard to maintain access and so far we’ve succeeded. But it’s a worldwide issue, not just in one country, so we’re working with IDDT and some folks in the US. I think we need a conference in North America to talk about the issue here. The UK has Wockhardt – and they export from there to Canada – but I think we need more than one manufacturer, and we also need strategies to significantly expand the market.