Stacey Silverman, a 55-year-old diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 48, relies on the insulin medication Levemir to manage her condition effectively. However, her health stability is now under threat as Novo Nordisk, the pharmaceutical company producing Levemir, has announced its discontinuation this year. This decision has left Silverman and thousands of patients in a scramble to find a suitable replacement.
Insulin Woes Continue: Novo Nordisk’s Discontinuation of Levemir Sparks Concerns Among Patients Despite Previous Price Cut
Despite a brief respite with a 65% price cut last March, Novo Nordisk plans to stop selling Levemir in the U.S. The discontinuation will affect the injectable FlexPen version by April and the vials by the end of December. Novo Nordisk attributes this decision to global manufacturing constraints, the availability of alternative insulin forms, and restrictions imposed by pharmacy managers and insurers.
Patients like Silverman are now faced with the challenge of finding alternative long-acting insulins. Novo Nordisk suggests options such as glargine (sold as Basaglar and Lantus) and degludec (sold as Tresiba). These changes are disruptive, and patients often need quick-acting insulin for meals.
This discontinuation adds to the struggles faced by insulin-dependent patients who have long advocated for more affordable insulin. The initial price cut provided relief, but the discontinuation of Levemir serves as another hurdle. A 2022 study highlighted that high insulin costs led to 16.5% of adults not taking full doses as prescribed.
Health Concerns Rise as Novo Nordisk Shifts Focus: Discontinuation of Levemir Sparks Worries Among Patients
Novo Nordisk’s decision reflects a trend in the pharmaceutical industry of replacing older insulin versions with newer, often more expensive formulations. Analysts suggest the company is shifting focus to lucrative markets like GLP-1 weight-loss drugs, leaving insulin of “decreasing financial importance.”
For patients like Silverman, the prospect of changing from a reliable medication is unsettling. The discontinuation of Levemir raises concerns about the limited treatment options for those dependent on this specific insulin, potentially impacting their health and well-being.