Wockhardt UK has announced it will no longer produce bovine insulin and that existing supplies of the insulin are already depleting.
"Due to global bovine insulin raw material unavailability, Wockhardt has no choice but to discontinue the Hypurin Bovine Insulin range," the company stated on its website in announcing the decision. "Unfortunately, despite our best efforts in trying to find an alternative supply of bovine insulin raw material, none has been found."
According to company estimates that were made in October, the first of six formulations of bovine insulin produced by the company was expected to run out last month. This formulation, known as Hypurin Bovine Isophane, was available in 3 ml cartridges. Other forms of bovine insulin are expected to be depleted by late summer or fall of 2018.
One form of insulin, known as Hypurin Bovine Lente, is expected to run out by April 2019.
"As no further batches of bovine insulin can be manufactured, residual stocks will be carefully managed to ensure product remains available for patients for as long as possible," the Wockhardt website stated.
The use of animal insulin has declined "dramatically" ever since human insulin created using recombinant DNA technology became available in the 1980s, according to a 2015 report on insulin published in Endotext by Thomas Donner, MD.
According to Donner’s article, beef insulin, beef-pork, and pork insulin are already no longer available commercially in the United States. Patients may be able to import bovine insulin from another country if they are allergic to human insulin or are otherwise unable to take other formulations.
Wockhardt plans to continue to produce pork insulin.
Pharmacists, physicians, and other health-care professionals should speak with their patients who use bovine insulin to discuss alternate options before the supply runs out.