Eli Lilly announced two of its widely used insulin formulations would soon become temporarily unavailable in the coming weeks. Is there any end in sight?

Here we are a month later and diabetics across Michigan are still struggling to fill their prescriptions-- including myself!

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Headquartered in Indianapolis, pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly was the first to commercialize insulin just 101 years ago in 1923. Today drug manufacturers Novo NordiskSanofi, and Eli Lilly are the world's top 3 largest producers of insulin.

Lilly Headquarters Indianapolis
Lilly Headquarters, Indianapolis via Google Maps

With only 3 pharmaceutical companies in the world mass-producing insulin, when something goes wrong all patients are forced to feel the effects. That's exactly what's happening in the Midwest right now in states like Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and the rest of the nation.

Lilly announced 10 mL vials of Humalog and insulin lispro (generic) would become temporarily unavailable due to manufacturing delays but production was expected to resume mid-April, however in a recent statement by Lilly expects its consumers will still feel the effects:

All Lilly insulins are available in the U.S. for patients living with diabetes, including 10 mL vials of Humalog® (insulin lispro injection) 100 units/mL and Insulin Lispro Injection 100 units/mL. But, the market and supply chain continue to be dynamic, so some pharmacies may still experience intermittent outages

insulin lispro shortage

What's The Solution?

Unfortunately, there really isn't one. Lilly suggests consumers either call around to different pharmacies, resort to using KwikPens or some other mode of injection, or simply switch the brand of insulin you're using-- because everyone knows that will go over great with your insurance company! What could go wrong?

Now, I have a decent stockpile at home but the longer this shortage goes on the more I start to worry. Should I start attempting to refill my prescriptions now hoping that by the time it comes through I'm not out of insulin myself?

I can't tell you how many posts I've seen in all my diabetic Facebook groups venting about their struggles and worries. Though I'll choose to keep them anonymous here are some examples what diabetics across the nation are saying:

  • "Anybody happen to have humalog insulin to spare they legit have a shortage everywhere" - Youngstown, Ohio
  • "they suggest switching brands. It’s not that easy to sit on the phone for countless hours to be told they’ll file an appeal and contact the physician who’s already bombarded with documentation and wait for someone sitting behind a desk to play Russian roulette with people’s lives. This is unacceptable." - Duncan, South Carolina
  • "Our insurance company informed us that they no longer will cover Humalog insulin and they will now only cover Lispro insulin. And Lispro has had a shortage ever since. Every month, I have to call around to the pharmacies in the metro area and hope they have a vial of insulin. Then repeat the next month. This month, no one has any." - Lenexa, KS

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