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Diabetes drug withdrawn

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Thousands of diabetes sufferers could face serious upheaval to their treatment after the decision was taken to withdraw a drug, leading academics have warned.

Insulin product Mixtard 30, which has been taken by about 90,000 UK patients in the past 10 years, is being withdrawn by pharmaceutical firm Novo Nordisk.

A group of scientists, in a letter to the Daily Telegraph, said the move would “adversely affect the wellbeing of many people with diabetes” while more expensive replacements “add millions to NHS costs”. The signatories - who include Jenny Hirst of the Insulin Dependent Diabetes Trust - said some patients would need many months to become established on different insulin treatments.

They said: “Crucially, scientific evidence indicates that alternative forms of insulin promoted by the company, such as NovoMix 30, are neither more effective nor safer. But they are much more expensive, with one estimate suggesting that a straight switch to NovoMix 30 for patients in England alone would add around £9m to the NHS drugs bill.”

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “Patients on Mixtard 30 should continue to take it for the time being. Novo Nordisk’s decision to withdraw the medicine is a commercial one and there are no safety concerns about this product. Healthcare professionals have been asked to set up appointments with those affected to discuss a suitable alternative treatment. Every patient will receive the very best care, support and monitoring during the transition period. This will be completed in time for the product’s withdrawal at the end of the year.”

Mixtard 30 - which is being discontinued from December 31 this year - is recommended by the UK’s drugs watchdog National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

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