Novo Nordisk to stop selling Levemir insulin

Levemir, one of the three types of long-acting basal insulins, is evacuating the U.S. market, and diabetes patient advocates told USA Today they're worried about using a new medication after nearly two decades. 

The drug's maker, Novo Nordisk, announced in November that it was discontinuing Levemir Flexpen and Levemir subcutaneous injection solutions. Supply is expected to deplete by April, when tens of thousands of Type 1 diabetes patients and their families will have to find alternative treatment.

Novo Nordisk told USA Today the discontinuations are because of global manufacturing constraints, the availability of other insulins, and pharmacy benefit managers and payers limiting access to Levemir on their drug formularies. 

The decision could disrupt the new access to lower-priced insulins after the three biggest insulin manufacturers dramatically cut their list prices in March. Salt Lake City resident Alison Smart told USA Today her 15-year-old daughter with diabetes has tried other medicines but Levemir works best. Lester Hightower in Jacksonville, Fla., echoed the same concern for his 18-year-old son Andrew, who has Type 1 diabetes. 

The families implored Novo Nordisk to reconsider pulling the drug after it has been approved and on the market since 2005. 

"We made this decision after careful consideration and are confident that given the advanced notice, U.S. patients will have access to alternative treatments and can transition to other options," the drugmaker told the outlet.

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