Although there are technically no generic versions of glucagon, Eli Lilly's Glucagon Emergency Kit and Novo Nordisk's GlucaGen HypoKit are generally considered interchangeable with one another. Glucagon is not protected from generic competition by any patents. However, the technology used to make it is complicated and expensive, so there could be other reasons why no true generic versions exist.
Can I Buy Generic Glucagon?
Glucagon is a medication approved for the treatment of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and for use in slowing the digestive tract in certain diagnostic procedures. Glucagon is available from two different manufacturers in the United States. Technically, neither of these products is considered a generic medication.
Glucagon kits, which contain everything needed to prepare and give the injections, are made by Eli Lilly and Company (sold under the name "Glucagon Emergency Kit") or by Novo Nordisk, Inc. (sold under the name "GlugaGen® HypoKit®"). In addition, Bedford Laboratories makes a version of GlucaGen that comes with just the glucagon powder and the liquid used to dissolve the powder (not the whole kit), and is suitable only for use in hospitals or other similar settings, typically for use during diagnostic tests.
When Will Generic Glucagon Be Available?
It is difficult to predict when, or even if, a generic version of glucagon will be available. There are no patents protecting against generic competition. However, the technology used to make glucagon is fairly complicated and expensive. The drug is made using recombinant DNA technology that uses bacteria to make glucagon that is identical to that produced naturally by the human body.
Are Glucagon and GlucaGen Interchangeable?
Eli Lilly's Glucagon Emergency Kit and Novo Nordisk's GlucaGen HypoKit could be considered equivalent for general purposes, although in the most technical sense they are not interchangeable. In most cases, your pharmacist can simply dispense whichever kit they have in stock, unless your healthcare provider specifically requests one certain type.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Glucagon Emergency Kit [package insert]. Indianapolis, IN: Eli Lilly and Company;2005 February.
GlucaGen HypoKit [package insert]. Princeton, NJ: Novo Nordisk, Inc.;2005 November
Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Electronic orange book: approved drug products with therapeutic equivalence evaluations. FDA Web site. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/cder/ob/. Accessed December 9, 2010.
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