Canadians offer proof that Lilly has stopped production of all Animal Insulins beef, beef-pork, and pork. Lilly is clearly lying to someone!

Diabetics fight for access to animal insulin (02/03/2003) (Link to CTV and to their streaming video)

By Avis Favaro, CTV News Staff reports:

A group of insulin dependent diabetics is pleading for help in guaranteeing them access to animal-based insulin. They say the company that has a monopoly on it is planning to phase it out.

CTV News Staff

On Monday, a group of insulin dependent diabetics will be holding a news conference in Ottawa, pleading for help in guaranteeing them access to animal based insulin. They say the North American company that has a monopoly on this kind of insulin is planning to phase out its production.

"It's a death sentence for me. ..for me and for many others" said Shirley Tolley.

She has been a Type 1 diabetic for almost 39 years. Thirteen years ago, her doctor switched her to the newer form of insulin, a genetically engineered copy of human insulin. But Shirley says she experienced countless blackouts because she was not able to properly control her blood sugar on the synthetic insulin.

"A couple of times, my husband came home and I was out cold on the floor. At one point when I was getting up in the morning, I had this grey film. I could not see. I thought I was going blind," remembers Tolley.

The day she resumed the pork insulin, she began to feel better. The blackouts stopped. Her vision returned to normal

Tanya Koehnke also tried the human insulin and suffered unpredictable fluctuations in her blood sugar. She had to be revived by paramedics over 100 times in the 13 years she was on the human insulin.

"I'm on the pork now and doing exceptionally well" Tanya said.

"This is our life blood, our life line. Without it, we cannot live... without pork insulin I cannot live," Koehnke says.

Eli Lilly, which holds the monopoly on pork insulin in North America, no longer advertises the animal-based insulin on its website. Company officials also told CTV News: "At this time, we have no plans to discontinue pork insulin." But a support group for patients, the Association for Diabetic Choice, says it has documents showing Eli Lilly has already stopped producing pork insulin

At the Task Force on Insulin meeting in Philadelphia on June 25 of 2001, an Eli Lilly spokesperson, Sylvia Lion, was noted as saying that "Eli Lilly and company is no longer producing animal insulin, but will still supply people until the end of their stock."

That was confirmed in an email from Dr. Claude MBanya, chair of the Task force. "Eli Lilly," he wrote to CTV, "will stop producing animal insulin." He didn't say when the company would cease production.

Colleen Fuller and other patients are starting to stockpile supplies of pork insulin. They may end up having to import their animal insulin from Europe, where it's still being sold, for now. But they will have to pay a premium of several hundred dollars a month for the privilege of being able to get the kind of insulin they say keeps them healthy and alive.

"If I am going to continue to have a good life, this is the kind of insulin I have to use -- pork insulin. I can't go back to synthetic insulin," says Fuller, who lives in Vancouver.

Patients think Eli Lilly's decision is based on marketing and profits. It's more expensive, they say, to produce insulin from animals, because of the costs of raising, slaughtering and processing the cells.

"Eli Lilly has a marketing strategy, but we have lives. That's what it boils down to." says Fuller.

Some patients think their case raises moral questions. Is it right for a company to stop producing a drug patients need to survive? And do government officials have any power to force companies to make medications that may not have a large enough profit margin?

Health Canada spokesperson Julia Hill says there's little they can do.

"Can we require a company to market a product in Canada? No we can't. We live in a capitalist society," says Hill. "These are business decisions, we cannot force them to change their business decisions."

"The ideal situation is to have more than one manufacturer in the market. But we can't approach companies," Hill says. "But patients can approach other companies."

"We have spoken to Eli Lilly," Hill adds. "We've had confirmation from the company that they do not plan to withdraw their product. What I would like is a submission from another company so that there are more options for patients."

"If we have any serious indication there was going to be a shortage problems, we would take immediate action to do anything we could to expedite a submission."

Please visit their website and view the streaming video! <click here>

For the listing of all of their diabetes articles, <click here>