A letter from the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin, published in today's Daily Telegraph, deplores the axing by Novo Nordisk of an insulin product, currently used by an estimated 90,000 diabetics in the UK.
The letter, which has the backing of several leading specialists and the Insulin Dependent Diabetes Trust, calls on manufacturer Novo Nordisk to reverse its decision to withdraw Mixtard 30 from sale by the
end of this year.
The letter's content echoes the views of more than 1,000 people, including clinicians and patients, who have so far signed DTB's petition in protest at the drug company's plans, which were announced in June.
The signatories argue that the move will "adversely affect
the wellbeing of many people with diabetes and add millions to NHS costs."
Mixtard 30 is a biphasic human insulin, which is 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.
Analogue forms of insulin, which the company also make and
promote as replacements for Mixtard 30, "are neither more effective nor safer,"
says the letter.
They are also much more expensive. A straight switch from
Mixtard 30 to one of these alternatives - NovoMix 30 - for all patients in
England alone will add an estimated £9 million to the NHS drugs bill.
And that figure does not take account of other added cost
pressures, warns the letter. These include the need to review many thousands of
patients to switch treatment, some of whom will need many months to become well
established on an alternative insulin.
Many patients with eyesight and manual dexterity problems
may find it very difficult to make the switch without becoming dependent on
other people, as Mixtard 30 is available in an ergonomically designed device,
"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,"
concludes the letter.