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NHS diabetes treatments ignoring cheaper insuli, according to report

A new study by the British Medical Journal and Channel 4 News has found that the NHS is wasting up to GBP50 million each year on an expensive version of insulin, rather than using the cheaper version available.
The report, which featured on last night’s Channel 4 News, revealed that the NHS were using analogue insulin, which is either derived from animals or can be genetically engineered, and is up to five times more expensive than normal insulin from human donors. It was argued that there are no major benefits for type 2 diabetes patients from the analogue version.
The report also showed that most of the insulin used for treatment in the UK is now analogue insulin, Lentus by Sanfi-aventis and Levemir by Novo Nordisk. However, Amanda Adler, a senior research associate at the Diabetes Trials Unit at Oxford University, commented that about nine out of 10 people that suffered from type 2 diabetes “would probably do quite well on these human insulins compared with the long-acting insulin analogues.”
Hans Hogerzeil, director of the World Health Organisation’s Essential Medicines and Pharmaceutical Policies, also said “The global insulin market is dominated by two giant companies who are pushing a new type of insulin analogue at three to five times the cost of human insulin, while its marginal cost-effectiveness is not fully established.”
The investigation claimed that health programmes globally were having to pay higher charges for the insulin, and estimated that, over the last five years, if only half of patients who took analogue insulins had instead taken a human versio, it could have saved the NHS more than GBP250 million.

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