GlucaGen Hypokit in short supply until October

Michelle Wisbey

21/07/2023 4:24:02 PM

Another diabetes medication is now facing supply issues, adding to worldwide shortages of semaglutide and dulaglutide.

GlucaGen vial
The GlucaGen HypoKit is expected to be in short supply until October. (Image: Wikimedia commons/Whispyhistory)

Patients with diabetes have been dealt yet another blow, with manufacturers confirming a supply shortage of the GlucaGen HypoKit.
Novo Nordisk Pharmaceuticals confirmed the shortage is currently expected to last until the end of September due to a ‘shortfall in the release and supply of pre-filled syringes from an external vendor’.
‘This shortage is not a consequence of any safety or quality related issues,’ it said in a letter to GPs.
The GlucaGen HypoKit is a specialist glucagon emergency kit used to treat severe hypoglycaemia in people with diabetes.
The company is now recommending healthcare professionals to use the kits only for treating severe hypoglycaemia and not for diagnostic purposes.
It is also advising GPs to tell patients not to discard kits nearing expiry, only those passed their expiry date, until a new kit has been obtained.
RACGP Specific Interests Diabetes Chair Dr Gary Deed told newsGP the shortage will mostly impact type 1 diabetes patients, labelling the product ‘hypoglycaemia rescue management’.
‘It is a good time for GPs to make sure all their patients utilising insulin and sulphonylurea medications have an updated hypoglycaemia management plan,’ he said.
Novo Nordisk Pharmaceuticals said it is now working with the external vendor to stabilise the supply, with it expected to return to normal by October.
‘The manufacturer is working with the Therapeutic Goods Administration [TGA], healthcare professionals, pharmacy and patient groups to provide timely advice about this shortage and minimise the impact on the diabetes community where they can,’ it said.
It is the latest in a string of diabetes medication shortages, most notably semaglutide (sold as Ozempic), which will remain limited until the end of December after it became popularised on social media for weight loss.  
‘The TGA is actively investigating alleged unlawful advertising of Ozempic and is meeting with social media platforms including TikTok to reinforce Australian therapeutic goods advertising laws,’ the regulator stated earlier this year.
‘Doctors treating patients with obesity should continue to consider alternatives to semaglutide until supply is expected to stabilise.’  
Semaglutide supply issues also contributed to shortages of dulaglutide (sold as Trulicity), which is unlikely to be available until 31 December 2023.
The TGA is recommending GPs continue limiting both prescriptions to its registered indication of the management of type 2 diabetes.
The three major shortages have the potential to impact the almost 1.9 million Australians diagnosed with diabetes, and around 134,000 people who are currently living with type 1.
Dr Deed said moving forward, more needs to be done to protect patients, and clinicians, from future shortages.
‘It again targets a critical chronic disease management area, not just for GPs, but also patients,’ he said.
‘Some future solution planning is needed by regulators to address these problems, whether that be the TGA or others.’
More information can be found in the RACGP’s handbook, Management of type 2 diabetes: A handbook for general practice.
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diabetes dulaglutide medication shortage Ozempic semaglutide TGA Trulicity

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