Brexit and Insulin Shortages

a plstic box c ontaining insulin on The Diabetes DietInsulin shortages and low-carb dishes—no obvious connection, I grant you but bear with me.

The first relates to a news item on Channel 4 last night, which warned of insulin shortages post-Brexit in the UK as the country produces little to no manufactured insulin (apart from a factory which makes the stuff derived from pigs).

Sir Michael Rawlins, the chair of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, told the Pharmaceutical Journal last Friday that, “We make no insulin in the UK. We import every drop of it. You can’t transport insulin around ordinarily because it must be temperature-controlled. And there are 3.5 million people [with diabetes, some of whom] rely on insulin, not least the Prime Minister.”

412,000 people on insulin

Strictly speaking, that’s no true as the Channel 4 story pointed out. Wockhardt UK produces the animal insulin, but its products are used by some 1,500 to 2,000 patients every year. And that’s less than 0.5 percent of the estimated 421,000 people in the UK who rely on insulin.

Channel 4 News spoke to the major manufacturers, Sanofi, Novo Nordisk and Lilly. All of them make insulin in Europe.

The Healthcare Distribution Association (HDA) UK which represents medical suppliers in the UK wrote to the UK Government post the referendum in 2016 to warn of serious upsets to the supply chain should Brexit negotiations go wrong.

Buffer stocks

HDA UK said the UK medicines supply chain had “inbuilt resilience” and “flexibility”, and that they were aware of proposals by the government and manufacturers to develop plans for a buffer stock of all medicines.

A spokesperson for the Government said they were confident of reaching a deal, there were contingency plans in place to ensure no disruption to supplies.

Channel 4 News’ fact check conclusion is that as the companies and the Government don’t anticipate shortages, we should be okay.

Back to low-carb recipes and my tenuous attempt to link the two. If you follow a low-carb diet and you use insulin, in general you don’t need to take as much insulin. If shortages come, you’ll have more time to use your insulin while the powers-that-be attempt to sort out this almighty mess.

Cue plug for this blog and The Diabetes Diet! Is that distasteful of me?! Probably.




17 thoughts on “Brexit and Insulin Shortages”

      1. Oof, the six million dollar question… I assume so too, but the complexity, nuances and morality of a second referendum are beyond my understanding…

        Liked by 1 person

  1. It is difficult to imagine that the UK would have shortages of insulin product. But I think ti is possible, I hope the supply chain is resilient.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The manufacturers seem confident the supply chain will be okay. Or perhaps I should go back to the good ol’ days of pork insulin as I was on the stuff for years!


  2. I thought I’d read that Wockhardt had stopped producing bovine insulin

    I knew a few well controlled Type 1s who swore by Beef-L. I don’t know what they are going to do now.

    Actually they are Indian. There are some dubious Indian and Chinese drug manufacturers, I wonder if there are other more ethical ones who could step into the breech.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It was a British company that Wockhardt took over who still manufactured animal insulin here, but I can’t remember their name. I must be drinking too much , . .


  3. My local pharmacist has one patient who is already unable to get his particular type of insulin – it’s made in the Czech Republic and the manufacturer refuses to export to the UK until it knows full trade arrangements. Ironically, the patient is a GP, it seems. (I’m not diabetic so I’m only passing this on as hearsay.)

    As for a 2nd referendum, the answer is it’s ENTIRELY possible. We live in a representative parliamentary democracy and our parliament has to approve referendums and can decide to ignore or accept the result if it wishes. Or hold another ten if it likes. In fact the EU referendum was called by Parliament in the first place despite being opposed by most of the country’s voters.

    The only reason that there is (so far) to be no 2nd/ratifiaction Brexit referendum is that a small group of weak politicians at Westminster are desperate to cling onto power. That house of cards could collapse at any moment.

    Liked by 1 person

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