Novo Nordisk says stolen insulin is back in supply chain

LevemirAn insulin product stolen from Novo Nordisk in the USA has re-entered the supply chain, prompting the company to issue a warning to patients and doctors.

Novo Nordisk said that the vials of Levemir (insulin detemir) had been stolen in North Carolina, but resurfaced in Texas. Three lots with the numbers XZF0036, XZF0037, and XZF0038 - accounting for a total of 129,000 vials - were stolen in all.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said the vials "may not have been stored and handled properly, and may be dangerous for patients to use."

The agency said it has received one report of a patient who suffered an adverse event due to poor control of glucose levels after using a vial from one of these three lots.

In a statement Tom Kubic, president of the Pharmaceutical Security Institute noted that "it's been over four months since the original theft in February 2009." 

"So who knows where or how these stolen medicines were stored while they made their way from North Carolina to the Houston medical facility. But one thing is certain, they weren't handled the way Novo Nordisk would have maintained them."

The case draws further attention to theft of shipments as a third element in supply chain security in addition to counterfeiting and diversion. In 2008 pharmaceutical thefts in the USA rose by a third, with criminals actively targeting drug shipments “on an unprecedented scale,” according to a recent report.

Levemir is indicated for once- or twice-daily subcutaneous administration for the treatment of adult and paediatric patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus or adult patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus who require basal (long-acting) insulin for the control of hyperglycaemia.

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