Did you ever want to start a rant and then realize you have far too many things to explain in order for people to properly understand what you are ranting about? That’s what  just happened to me. After working up a good head of steam and venting in this post title, I suddenly understood that, if I wanted sympathy, I needed to provide some context.

So consider the following a pre-rant.

The Super-Deep Background

Regulating Mr Frankie

Frankie’s diabetes has been under control for about 2 1/2 years now. He was diagnosed in late 2008, and it took about 6 months (which is a little less than average) to get him regulated on Vetsulin, the porcine-based insulin manufactured by Intervet/Schering-Plough. (I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to any pigs who may have sacrificed their lives to produce porcine-based insulin. I don’t know how that works and, honestly, I don’t want to know because it will make me sadder than I am already.)

Frankie tried several different types of insulin at different doses. The Vetsulin worked best.

The Semi-Super-Deep Background

Problems with the meds

After about a year, I began noticing that some bottles of Vetsulin seemed stronger than others. That didn’t really bother me because I test Frankie’s urine twice a day and adjust the dose based on those tests, i.e., if his blood sugar is high I up it a tad, if low, I lower the amount. I did tell one of the vets in the practice I go to about these inconsistencies when I started noticing them. She said, “You’re the only one who has ever said that,” and made me feel like an idiot pain-in-the-butt client.

Then the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Intervet/Schering-Plough made a joint announcement that there were problems with Vetsulin’s formulation. I already wrote about it here — see  The Vetsulin Crisis: Cold Comfort — so won’t repeat all the details, except to say that I was satisfied enough with Frankie’s stability on Vetsulin that I decided I didn’t want to change his medication and I was worried that it might be discontinued.

I had a supply of about three months and ordered an additional six months from Drs. Foster & Smith online pharmacy with a prescription from my vet.

Problem deferred.

Then, as I’d feared, Intervet/Schering Plough took Vetsulin off the market completely.

The Getting-Shallower-Every-Minute Background

The Critical-Need program

I had read on K9Diabetes.com — an excellent forum, and if I didn’t hate forums (fori?) for reasons too numerous and too petty, including type fonts, to go into, I would be on it regularly — that there was a Critical-Need program through Intervet/Schering-Plough for people who wanted to continue using Vetsulin and could get their vets to cite special circumstances. When I had enough Vetsulin, I ignored the program. Now, with only about two months of Vetsulin left and no hope of getting any more, I turned to Dr. E, my primary vet (not the one in the practice who treated me like an idiot) and asked him to help me out. He was happy to do so, agreeing that since Frankie was 12 and doing well on Vetsulin it made sense to keep him on it.

But the program turned out to be a HUGE pain in the butt, requiring abundant paperwork, unprecedented advance payment, and Dr. E’s Chihuahua as a bond. Just kidding about the Chihuahua — I wanted to see if you were still reading — but the drug company did make him jump through so many hoops that for the first time in the 6 1/2 years since I adopted Frankie and started going to him, I heard Dr. E express anger.

And it took forever to process the request.

At the point when I had only about a week’s supply left, I completely freaked out. Then I remembered that Canada was selling Vetsulin under the name Caninsulin. I hadn’t wanted to try another version of the drug because I wasn’t sure it was identical, but now I was desperate.

I found several Canadian pharmacies that sold Caninsulin on line, including one that didn’t require a prescription. But when I went to place the order, they all said it would take from five to 1o business days for them to deliver the product by EXPRESS mail — which not only seemed like a very long time for a perishable product to spend in the mail but which also meant there was no guarantee that I’d get the drug before my supply ran out.

I called my vet in semi-hysterics, and was assured that there was an emergency bottle in the office — and that the order for the Critical-Need program’s supply was coming through in a day or two for sure.

I decided to pass on the slow boat Canadian order. And the emergency supply did come in the next day.

Then — and now we are in early February 2011, so getting close to the present day — the Critical-Need program was discontinued.

Canada to the Rescue — temporarily

I still had a full bottle and a half (about a nine-week supply) of Vetsulin left so as much as I worried about the medication getting spoiled in the non-express express mail from Canada, I ordered Caninsulin through the pharmacy that made it available without a prescription. I opted for a single bottle, to make sure that Frankie responded well to it.

It took about four days to get to me, far more quickly than I’d anticipated. The cold packs in which the Caninsulin was shipped were still semi-cold when the package arrived and the pharmacy had said that if there was a problem with the drug, which could be determined visually, they would replace it.

Frankie responded well to the Caninsulin, so after about three weeks I decided to order more from the Canadian pharmacy.

The nice lady on the phone — they really are very nice in Canada, just like the stereotypes have it —  said sorry, they were very short on supplies of the drug and had a waiting list of about 400 people for it.

That meant I had only a six-week supply left and no way to get any more in time. Now I began to freak out in earnest about having to shift Frankie’s insulin. It was not just the expense of having to go through the whole glucose curve testing process again, or even — more crucial — the effect on Frankie’s health while he was going through it. It was that Dr. E suggested that the shift to other insulin products hadn’t been entirely successful with other pets.

This brings us to last week, when I posted on Facebook about how upset I was.

And this is where I am going to leave you, even though I haven’t even gotten to the UPS/FDA ranty part of this rant, nor the part where I profess my adoration for Karen of Doggie Stylish. It’s not that I think you have a short attention span (well, maybe a little) but that I don’t have time to write any more at the moment.

To be continued…




18 thoughts on “I Hate UPS, the FDA and Intervet/Schering-Plough (But Love Doggie Stylish)”

  1. Ugh!!! This is awful. I am hoping the whole thing has a happy ending, though and Frankie’s health has not been compromised. I hate that so often we are held hostage to politics when it comes to our health. So often there is just nothing we can do but suffer. It’s not right.

    As I say, I hope Karen was able to work miracles and things are going to be okay for you now.

    1. Even you don’t know the final twist to the story! I didn’t know it myself until I started writing the post. So you have to come back for the ironic end.
      I would invest in F-UPS in a minute!

  2. Definitely rant away!! You’ve got a gazillion reasons…and it’s no surprise Karen came through for you – she’s a star! Oh, I hope this has a happy ending…


    I’m glad you think Canadians are nice, because we just started a federal election, and the ugly underbelly is showing… but our politics are so boring they’ll never make ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, or even CNN. So keep your image of the polite Canuck alive!

    And for what it’s worth, my husband hates UPS too. I bet there’s a Facebook page for that…

  4. Hi Y’all,

    My Human had a diabetic dog years ago. Choices were limited for insulin in those days.

    My Human says she can’t imagine what frustration (too mild) you were going through.

    We will have to wait in suspense until late tomorrow evening or Wednesday morning. My Humans are going to take me with them tomorrow for the whole day!

    Y’all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

    1. Actually… Wednesday is when I am posting the second installment, so you won’t have to wait longer than anyone else.

      Hope you have a wonderful day away from your computer tomorrow.

  5. What a PITA and upset in the lives of dogs…so now you and your vet have a little more time to figure out what you will use when the pipeline drys up. Hmmm, wondering about patent laws when a corporation ceases production. The patent could be sold to another corp. Did the company stop production because of the inability to standardize the dosage – you mentioned a variability factor that most don’t catch (leave it to you!!). Perhaps the variabiliy was within risk tolerance guidelines? Were they sued? Is there a generic? I guess I’ll have to wait and see!

    And as for the Queen of Etsy, I must agree Karen is wonderful! I just received a bunch of collars and leashes I won in a contest that will be used for Lake Shore Animal Shelter:)) (they had been misdirected in the mail, so I have mail issues, too!) I am not surprised she went out of her way to help you and Frankie! She’s that kind of person;-D

    1. Funny you should ask those questions, Mary — and even funnier (as in funny peculiar, not ha ha) that I never thought to ask them until very recently. But you’re right, you’re going to have to wait until Wednesday, and even then I’ll probably raise more questions than I can answer at this point.

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