April 16, 2015 – Generic Insulin


Anchor lead:  Why don’t we have a generic insulin in the United States? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Insulin can be very expensive, with some people citing the price as the reason they don’t use insulin as directed and their diabetes isn’t controlled.  Jeremy Greene, an internal medicine physician and medical historian at Johns Hopkins, says a look at the history of insulin in the US is revelatory.

Greene: Humulin and other recombinants produced through biotech processes began to take over the insulin market in the United States such that by the 1990s one of two forms of animal insulin went off the market and by 2006 the other is and so we see that an innovative product, a product that is better in some ways than the product that it replaces, drives an older but effective product off the market such that a generic market that should have existed for these animal forms of insulin just disappears.  :31

Greene says for people on limited incomes or without insurance, a generic insulin would be very welcome and would likely also help avoid many complications of diabetes.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.