No shortage of insulins due to COVID-19: manufacturers

Insulin manufacturers have reassured people with diabetes that there are no supply problems due to the COVID-19 pandemic and there is no need to stockpile products.

Despite the disruption to transport caused by pandemic measures and export bans imposed on insulin products by some countries, Australian pharmaceutical companies say they have sufficient quantities of insulin in stock to maintain long term supply.

The maker of insulin glargine 100 units/mL, Sanofi, says it has no supply issues and it is encouraging patients not to increase the amount of insulin they keep at home.

Dr Katarina Kelin, Head of Medical for Sanofi’s General Medicines business in Australia, says the company has “taken steps to prevent disruption due to the pandemic”.

“Our global manufacturing network is operational, and as of today our production of insulin products has not been impacted by COVID-19,” she says.

Dr Kelin reminded doctors to be aware that Lantus is being delisted from the PBS from 1 July, so it is important that patients prescribed Lantus are now offered other insulin glargine 100 units/mL. Sanofi is now accelerating its availability of its second insulin brand, Optisulin, in Australia to support ongoing insulin glargine 100 units/mL availability, she said.

Optisulin is one of a number of medicines that is ‘A’ flagged, allowing for pharmacy substitution with Lantus.

Other insulin manufacturers have also reassured patients on the availability of insulins

“Currently, we are not experiencing any supply constraints,” Novo Nordisk said in a statement on 16 April.

“We are well prepared for situations like this and we have a storage policy that ensures long-term supply.  In Australia and New Zealand we are in close contact with our wholesalers, distributors and pharmacies to monitor the availability of our medicine.”

Earlier this month the International Diabetes Federation warned that the  measures put in place by many governments around the world to fight the spread of COVID-19 “have the potential to disrupt production capabilities and supply chains dramatically, which could hypothetically create shortages at the point of sale/supply.”

“The movement of goods, for example, while not generally targeted by the new measures, may be hindered by a reduction in the number of available flights, airport closures, and delays at border posts resulting from increased controls,” it said.

“Production capabilities might be similarly hampered by the lack of availability of the necessary raw materials and components, increased demand for competing products reducing the production output of some goods and materials, and staff shortages.

Some EU countries have banned the export of insulins after classifying them as essential medicines, but IDF spokesman said this had not resulted  in any reported disruptions to supply.

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