Hello there, I’m new to this website and am just learning the ropes, so please bear with me.
I wanted to let people know about some of the things that are going on in Canada regarding insulin. I am with a small group (a “break away” from the Canadian Diabetes Association) called the Society for Diabetic Rights. We were founded in 2001 to fight for access to affordable animal-sourced insulin. Some of the older folks in tudiabetes will remember the “olden days” when that was the only insulin available. In 1995, the first massive withdrawal of insulin (24 different types) were pulled by Novo Nordisk and SDR members came together to protect ourselves from this corporate marketing strategy. Since then, Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk have continued their strategy of pulling off-patent insulins – both animal and biosynthetic – from the market because patented insulins are more profitable.
Since our founding we have succeeded in having a Parliamentary committee conduct public hearings on the issue; seeing Canada become the first country to call on the World Health Organization to designate animal insulin as an “essential medicine”; and managed to ensure two types of pork insulin are available (but it is very expensive!). Like Americans, we are also able to order beef and other types of pork insulin through a program run by Health Canada for personal use imports. We have continued to work with Health Canada on a plan to protect access and to educate the diabetes community. Our government agrees that some people, especially those with hypoglycemia unawareness and those who are vulnerable to severe hypoglycemia, may require animal instead of biosynthetic brands of insulin.
Next month, Health Canada will convene an expert panel on insulin to advise it “on the place of animal and biosynthetic human insulins in the treatment of diabetes.” I will represent SDR on the panel. The Insulin Dependent Diabetes Trust (IDDT) will make a presentation to the panel based on their knowledge and expertise about patient/consumer experiences with biosynthetic human insulin. IDDT has extensive international experience on this front and has worked to protect access to animal insulin in the UK and around the world.
I have very modest expectations of the panel, but will keep people informed about the recommendations which are likely to be forthcoming in November.