The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has issued a level 3 (high impact) medicine supply notification for an insulin pen.

It said NovoRapid FlexPen (which contains insulin aspart, a rapid-acting, manmade version of human insulin) 100units/ml solution for injection 3ml pre-filled pens, which is produced by Novo Nordisk, will be out of stock until the week commencing 21 November.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee added that:

  • NovoRapid Penfill (Insulin aspart) 100units/ml cartridges remain available and can support a full uplift in demand.
  • Trurapi Solostar (Insulin aspart, biosimilar) 100units/ml pens remain available and can only support a partial uplift in demand.
  • NovoRapid FlexTouch (Insulin aspart) 100units/ml pens remain available but cannot support any uplift in demand.

More information about the shortage, including any updates or changes to resupply dates, can be found on the new online Medicines Supply Tool, recently launched by the DHSC and NHS England/Improvement. The tool requires an NHS email address to log in.

Insulin is used to reduce high blood sugar level in the treatment of diabetes. Diabetes UK has said that it is aware of the issue and will continue to monitor the situation.

Almost 4.1 million people in the UK currently have some form of diabetes, while charity Diabetes predicts that figure to rise to 5.5 million by the end of the decade – almost 10 per cent of the projected adult population.