Vetsulin shortage predicted by FDA.

veterinary news

VetsulinThe FDA has just announced that they are anticipating a shortage of Vetsulin, an insulin used to treat diabetes in cats and dogs.

In 2009 the FDA voiced concerns about the stability of Vetsulin.  The concern was that the insulin may not always have predictable results.  What this means is that it may not always start acting as fast as expected, or may not last as long as expected.  The FDA then recommended that owners of dogs and cats who were on Vetsulin speak to their veterinarians about switching to another type of insulin.

However, if a veterinarian felt that a pet could not be safely switched to another type of insulin then they could apply for the “Critical Need Program”.  This program set aside a special supply of Vetsulin.

In November, 2010, some of this insulin that had been set aside was tested and did not meet quality control guidelines.  They did state, however, that it is very unlikely that any pets who are on Vetsulin will be affected.

As a result, Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health who makes Vetsulin will be discontinuing the Critical Need Program.  If your pet is on this insulin you will need to speak to your veterinarian about switching.

In Canada, the equivalent to Vetsulin is Caninsulin.  At the time of the writing of this post, this shortage did not affect Caninsulin.  The Canadian Intervet website did not mention any concerns about Caninsulin being pulled from the market.  In October, 2011, there is now a shortage of Caninsulin in Canada.  You can read more here:  Caninsulin shortage.

[New Info]:  Intervet/Schering Plough Animal Health is now saying that Vetsulin will indeed be back on the market.  They are working hard to solve the problems with stability.  However, they don’t know when that will happen.  Note:  As of October, 2011 Vetsulin is still not back on the market.  I am suspicious that it is finished for good.

Have you been affected by the Vetsulin shortage?  I’d love to have your comments on the situation.

Dr. Marie

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Dr. Marie

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21 Responses to "Vetsulin shortage predicted by FDA."

  1. Paula @ Dog Diabetes Info says:

    Hi Marie, yes we have been affected. My dog Zeke is 14 years old and has been on Vetsulin since July 2007. He has done very well on it so my vet and I decided to keep him on Vetsulin. I have ordered Caninsulin from Canada and Zeke is enrolled in the Critical Need program. I just received the letter yesterday from Intervet. I am glad to read on your blog that Caninsulin is not affected. On Monday I plan to contact the Canadian pharmacies where I have ordered Caninsulin in the past.

    1. Deanna Zimmer says:

      My Westie also has been on Vetsulin for 2.5 years and DOES great and had already been on human insulin and it did not work, so she was on the critical needs program in US and I got my last supply about 2 months ago and was able to get a bit extra but now all will be gone by mid June. Do you know which Canadian pharmacies are valid/reliable so I could try and order that way?
      She will be l6 mid June also and still doing ok, so really need some help. Thanks for any information.

      1. DrMarie says:

        Sorry to hear that this is happening. There are several different human types of insulin that you can try. I recently put a dog on Novolin Humulin and she is doing great! Another option is Glargine.

        I am not aware of the the legalities of buying through a Canadian pharmacy if you are not in Canada, so unfortunately I can’t comment on that.

  2. DrMarie says:

    Thanks for the comment Paula. I didn’t know that you could order Caninsulin from Canada if you lived in the US!

  3. Paula @ Dog Diabetes Info says:

    Hi Dr. Marie, yes it is very easy to order Caninsulin from Canata. In Canada Caninsulin is over the counter so you don’t need a prescription.

  4. DrMarie says:

    Paula, are you sure that it is Caninsulin that you are getting at the Canadian pharmacy? I did some research for you and it is actually not legal to buy Caninsulin from Canada and have it shipped to the US. The only exception is if you get a special waiver from the FDA.

    It is apparently legal to buy Caninsulin if you travel to Canada and bring it home with you though.

    There are some human insulins that are used in pets that are available without a prescription in Canada (such as NPH insulin). However, Caninsulin is not one of these as this medication is only available with a prescription from your vet.

    So, I can think of a couple of possible explanations for what is going on. One is that you may not be getting Caninsulin, but rather a different type of insulin. The second is that the pharmacy that is dispensing the medicine is doing so illegally.

    You may want to verify with your vet that your pet is indeed getting the right kind of insulin!

  5. Patty says:

    Dr. Marie, I have spent the last week researching Caninsulin from Canada and other countries. For some reason the Canadian pharmacies have no issue shipping it across the border w/o an RX. The UK requires a script. Other countries don’t. I have a 12 year old Vizsla that has been dibetic for about 4 years now. We tried to transition him to Humilin last year with disasterous results and so he’s enrolled in the CNP. This latest news about the CNP no longer supplying Vetsulin is devastating to us. Canada is now having issues filling the influx of orders from the states. Most websites are on “long term backorder” or limiting supply to 3 10ml bottles every 2 months. It’s a mess. I also contacted Intervet Shering Plough and they did respond. I still don’t feel however that we’re getting the full story as to why the drug is being yanked. Good luck to all. It’s life or death for some.

    1. robin says:

      i absolutely know how you feel, and i too will do whatever i can to keep my dog on the porcine insulin. we also had a very bad expirence trying to switch over. so does that mean that if my pet dies its the humulin’s fault? its a bad feeling when something has worked for 5 years and the only thing left is something you’ve already tried. it is very devastating to me.

  6. DrMarie says:

    Very interesting! This is news to me!

  7. Paula @ Dog Diabetes Info says:

    Hi Dr. Marie, you are probably absolutely right but people like Patty and I will do whatever we need to do to keep our pets alive and healthy. Please see my recent blogpost for more information concerning Caninsulin

  8. /Barbara Schine earthdoglady says:

    This entire vetsulin is a pure USA marketing scheme that many dogs/cats died or suffered as result of the Vetsulin itself.My own dog suffered thru several life threatening bouts of Vetsulin induced pancreatitus.Vetsulin is GONE from USA market-no more CNP!I have a letter from Schering stating that.The Humulin-N (current one people are now using in place of Vetsulin)…a so-called shortage was created by WalMart/others RIGHT AFTER Vetsulin recall.The OLD cost was $24 a bottle.Now it is $58 and all of a sudden Walmart and the other pharmacies have tons of it.People wake up! IMO,This is a SEC insider trading scheme plus my dog suffered HORRIBLY and I spent thousands of dollars to save him,in addition to him going blind.WRITE ME with your horror story/vetsulin scam! 29Mil class action lawsuit against Schering is,IMO,not worth joining,as the litigants are “talking with each other and settling” for pennies on the dollar.WRITE ME.My dogs BG on tainted Vetsulin went from 34 to almost 700.ALL due to the drug instability.BIG corp cover-up..please wake up and research the FACTS.HELP ME get to the truth!If you love your furbaby like I do,you WILL do something.

  9. DrMarie says:

    I debated about whether or not to publish the above comment. I’d like to note that there is no such thing as “Vetsulin Induced Pancreatitis”. Also, the wild swings in glucose levels can be seen in dogs on any kind of insulin as diabetes is a difficult condition to regulate.

    It makes sense to me that there could be a humulin shortage right after Vetsulin was pulled off the shelves. If there are tens of thousands of dogs across the country that were on Vetsulin and all of a sudden the all get put on humulin then this is going to eat up the supply. If the price went up this is likely a supply vs demand issue.

    1. Barbara Schine says:

      here is a cc of the letter i sent-in toto-to attorney handling class action suit.You will note: supply and demand is not the economic theory vetsulin was operating on.economics 101 is NOT the correct “jurisdiction” of Vetsulin.Schering Plough greedily crossed the line into micro and macro theories.What they did and the suffering of both animal and owner is certainly not anything I would agree to.This is not over.

      “As communicated to you many months ago,I find the settlement a pittance and an insult for the immense suffering/tribulations of both animal and Owner which lasted (and is still being endured by many;myself included)over an exacberated period of time.Indeed,furthur search,on my part,also was indicating implications of SEC,price fixing et al.That still remains to be proven and possible charges yet to me made.Statute of limitations are certainly not constrained at this time and point.
      Charges,another class action(this time with many more pet owners being involved and outraged) may be levied against Schering and its’ subsidiaries,affiliates,et al based upon furthur discovery.
      Your “final stages of negotiation;”fee agreement” are your legal choices & your client acceptance.Not mine,nor of the many others who were not involved in the Kerger & Hartman class action v.Schering-Plough.
      No,as stated previously,I do not wish your firm to have any representation for me.I have no questions.Thank you.

      Barbara Schine
      North Carolina

      dated July 5th,2011

      —– Original Message —–
      From: Jack Garwood
      Sent: Tuesday, July 05, 2011 11:53 AM
      Subject: Vetsulin Case

      Barbara Schine

      Dear Ms. Schine:

      Some time ago we communicated about the case of firm has against Schering-Plough, the maker of Vetsulin. We are in the final stages of negotiations with Schering-Plough for a settlement. Should you wish us to represent you in this matter we must have a completed questionnaire, a fee agreement and copies of your vet bills pertaining to the use of Vetsulin. I must have the material by July 8th. Should you have any questions, please let me know.

      John A. Garwood

      Director of Special Projects

      Kerger & Hartman LLC

      33 S. Michigan St., Suite 100

      Toledo, Ohio 43604


      419-255-5997 fax

  10. robin says:

    people wake up. its the diabetes thats killing your pets, not the vetsulin. animals are very hard to regulate. what works for one may not work for another, but we really only have 2 choices. because of this lack of understanding, my dog will probablly not do well, as i have already tried to switch her over to the nph. so after her trial on nph i was able to get her on the cnp, but regretfully i had to increase her dosage because of the trial switch. by the way my chihuahua cleo has been on vetsulin for 5 years in april. i am very upset. i should have the choice to remain giving her the vetsulin. at the moment i have approximately 4 months supply left. i can only hop that something might change by then. i called canada and they are not taking any new orders for caninsulin until further notice. i hope everyone is happy, but this pet owner is not!

  11. takodamickey says:

    Regarding Vetsulin, my cat is a history book case. She has been on every insulin out there and the only effective one is Vetsulin. Her levels have not gone below 250. She is on 36 units a day totally unherard of while any of the otheres PZI, Humilin, Lantis etc bring her right back into the 3 to 400 range. She is great however, not being able to get the Vetsulin now has me in a panic. I and my vet have tried to speak to Schering Plough and their recommendations did not work. So please FDA bring Vetsulin back.

  12. Fiona l Tindall says:

    My PWD was on Vetsulin (was enrolled in the CN Program, etc), and has, this past three weeks, transitioned to NPH. She did so well on Vestulin, totally 100% controlled, one injection (41 units) daily. Couldn’t be happier! Now we are using the human insulin (which didn’t work for her pre-Vetsulin) I’m very apprehensive about her well-being. She seems to be OK so far, but I can tell that she’s not as “bright” as when she was on the Vetsulin. Does anyone know if Caninsulin from Canada is still available? The only supply I can find will only ship 1 x 10ml per order.

    For the record, I do not believe that Vestulin is “killing” animals. Dr. Marie is right – it’s diabetis that’s killing them!

  13. Karen says:

    Sure, Shering, like all pharaceuitcal companies, has some shady dealings. But Shering is the only manufacturer of porcine insulin. The only kind which is nearly identical to canine insulin. And Mr. Jack/John A. Garwood – whoever you are. Your ignorance and greed makes you more responsible for the deaths of the animals that no longer have access to Vetsulin. I bet you have no personal experience of what it is like to see your dog waste away from being on human insulin engineered from ecoli bacteria, among other things. (In case you are too small minded to know what ecoli is – it’s in our crap.) Even the manufatures of human insulin won’t answer any animal related questions and they all blatently tell you their product is not made for use in animals. You should be ashamed of yourself to be partly responsible or, at a minimum, agreeable to the only option out there for so many animals being gone. There are zero problems with Caninsulin. Ask yourself why you colossal jackass. Why don’t you go after the human drugs that are really killing people and causing organ dampage. Heck, many of the new chemicals in birth control pills that stop womens’ periods for a year are more dangerous to humans than Vetsulin is to dogs. (Oh, I know why you don’t go after them – they are too big to fight, so you chose a small niche market drug instead.) Best wishes to you, NOT!

  14. Paula@Dog Diabetes Info says:

    Hi Dr. Marie, just wanted to let you know that I ended up having to switch my dog Zeke to NPH (Humulin N) . While I was so worried about switching him due to his age (almost 15) and the fact that he did so well on Vetsulin it turned out to be a non-event. He is doing well on the NPH. I buy it at Walmart over the counter for $25 per bottle and no shipping costs so I am saving a small fortunel.

    While I was researching the Caninsulin what I ran into is pretty much what Patty describes, Canadian pharmacies will ship the Caninsulin wihtout an RX while the UK ones want a prescription.

    Did anyone ever find out why the Caninsulin became so restricted in Canada? I only switched Zeke after running out of my supply and not being able to get any more.


  15. Patty says:

    I first checked in back in February. Well I finally ran out of Caninsulin and now am having an issue getting it from Canada once again. And the website [deleted so as to not give business to an unreputable company] has a totally cavalier attitude claiming their company is the only place in the world where you can get the product, which is totally false. It takes up to 3 weeks for the product to ship after you palce your order and then there’s no telling how long it will take to get to you. AND they will only ship 2 bottles at a time AND the price has almost doubed since February. My boy Rudi will be 13 next month. I pride myself with having given him the best care possible, now I feel so helpless. This whole situation is such a confusing disaster. If Intervet produces both Vetsuline AND Caninsulin, why can’t we get Caninsulin in the states? Why can’t they bring Vetsulin back? Somewhere out there is the truth. In the interim dogs and owners are suffering. This is not how our animals should be treated. In his last stages of life I just wish I could keep Rudi happy and healthy. I’m beside my self. If I have to switch to Humulin again I will but will live in fear that Rudi will have a seisure while he’s alone. Fortunately the first time we tried to switch over my husband and I were both home the 2 times he went into hypoclycemic shock. If we weren’t home he would have died. There is no happy ending here, and Intervet is responsible. They were more than happy to work with my vet on a consultative basis to transition Rudi to another product but they can’t guarantee it will work. No one can of course, but I hope they can live with the knowledge that they may be ultimately responsible for his death, and the untimely death of many others.

    1. DrMarie says:

      I’ve switched a number of dogs and cats to Humulin now and all are doing very well. Most of them are doing better than they did on Caninsulin to start with!

  16. Paula Craig says:

    Taking Vetsulin off the market has devastated my dog. She has been on NPH & now Lantus unsuccessfully. She runs between 500 & 750 & is now blind because of it. The federal government cares about no one but themselves & I am sick of it.

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