Veterinarians can expect some changes in the feline insulin market as a new product is entering the market and another is leaving.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved Intervet Inc.’s Vetsulin (porcine insulin zinc suspension) for the reduction of hyperglycemia and hyperglycemia-associated clinical signs in cats with diabetes mellitus. The insulin was previously indicated only for treating diabetic dogs.
Around the same time, Idexx Pharmaceuticals Inc. discontinued its PZI VET (protamine zinc insulin), an insulin for cats that is derived from bovine and porcine pancreatic glands.
The company says it is discontinuing the product because the raw materials to produce it are no longer available.
“All of the FDA-approved plants that produced the beef/pork insulin crystals have been closed,” says Randy Lynn, DVM, director of the Professional Services Group of Idexx Pharmaceuticals.
When the plants were built decades ago, Dr. Lynn says, they primarily supplied beef and pork crystal for use in human beings. However, with the recent move toward recombinant human insulin, there is not enough volume to keep those plants open, he adds.
The company’s previous public filings had indicated that this time would come, but the formal letter to veterinarians stating that the product was no longer in production was posted April 8.
Idexx says there is enough product still available—although it declines to say how much—to give veterinarians plenty of time to transition their patients to another treatment regimen.
“We still have a significant amount of product in distribution,” Lynn says. “The purpose of notifying veterinarians now was to let them know in plenty of time before those stocks are exhausted so they can sit down with their clients and staff and make a decision on how they want to move forward.”
He says that some veterinarians are purchasing large quantities of insulin to keep their cats going until a new product is approved, while others are deciding to switch to another product now.
Idexx is working with the FDA to develop a new insulin product for cats, but its representatives declined to disclose further details.
The discontinuation has caused some concern among veterinarians and cat owners.
“Any complete unavailability of bovine-derived insulin will be a problem for feline diabetic patients,” says Elizabeth Hodgkins, DVM, Esq., who has been studying feline diabetes for more than a decade. Dr. Hodgkins practices in Yorba Linda, Calif. Her book, “Your Cat: Simple Secrets to a Longer, Stronger Life,” was published last year by St. Martin’s Press.“Bovine insulin is molecularly most similar to feline insulin and, in clinical practice, gives far better results than any other type, including those developed for dogs and humans.”
Jennifer Gimon, founder and president of BCP Veterinary Pharmacy in Houston, says she has received several calls asking if her company’s BCP PZI bovine insulin for felines was also going to be discontinued.
“Our 100 percent bovine PZI product for cats, BCP PZI, is and will remain readily available,” Gimon says.
“The insulin crystals we use meet all U.S. Pharmacopeia Monograph Specifications. We subject BCP PZI to ongoing analysis not only in-house but at independent testing facilities to ensure the highest quality control.”