Insulin biosimilar brand safety reminder

June 26, 2020
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Reminder: Prescribe all insulins by brand

Following an incident, please be reminded of the guidelines below regarding insulin prescriptions.

 A number of new insulins have been launched in the UK including biosimilar insulins e.g. insulin glargine (brands include Abasaglar®, Lantus®, Semglee®, Toujeo®, Toujeo DoubleStar®), higher strength insulins e.g. Tresiba FlexTouch® (available as 100units/ml and 200units/ml strengths) and insulins with a similar name but with different strengths and/or different release profiles (e.g. Humulin M3®, Humulin I®, Humulin R® and Humulin S®).  Prescribing insulin by brand should ensure that substitution of a biosimilar insulin or alternative insulin product does not occur when the medicine is dispensed. Prescribing insulin by brand is recommended by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA), Regional Medicines Optimisation Committee (RMOC), and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Change from one insulin to another should be done with supervision and consent of the prescribing healthcare professional in consultation with the patient.

Action points:

  • For all new patients prescribed insulin, ensure prescribing/dispensing by brand name, that the device is specified and continuation of prescribing/dispensing of the same brand. This information should be included in patient documentation (e.g., insulin safety card/patient insulin passport).
  • Review all patients who are prescribed insulin generically. Clarify appropriate brand with the prescriber, confirming the current brand, e.g. with the patient.
  • The stability, shelf life and storage of the biosimilar insulin may differ from its reference product; therefore, check the Summary of Product Characteristics (SPC).
  • The insulin pen delivery device may be unique to the biosimilar insulin. Instruct patients on the correct use of the biosimilar pen device.
  • Consult the Coventry and Warwickshire APC net Formulary to check local formulary choices of insulins.
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