Exclusive: Eli Lilly’s recalled emergency diabetes drug got here from plant cited by FDA


Oct 4 (Reuters) – A just lately recalled batch of Glucagon Emergency Kits, Eli Lilly and Co’s (LLY.N) remedy for diabetic sufferers in disaster, was manufactured at an Indiana manufacturing unit cited by U.S. well being regulators this yr for quality-control violations, together with a number of involving that product, in keeping with the corporate and a Reuters overview of federal inspection data.

The Indianapolis-based firm on Sept. 24 issued a voluntary U.S. recall of 1 lot of the kits whose key ingredient is Glucagon, a drug used to deal with dangerously low blood sugar in diabetes sufferers. The firm issued a voluntary recall in Canada the next day.

Lilly’s recall notices stated that the corporate had acquired a report of a affected person who skilled seizures even after being injected with the drug, an indication that the therapy was not potent sufficient to work. The firm stated the product failure may be associated to its manufacturing course of, with out elaborating.

In response to Reuters’ inquiries, Lilly informed the information group that the affected kits have been produced at an organization facility in Indianapolis, and that the package that prompted the recall had been distributed in Canada. As Reuters reported in May, the Indianapolis plant had been cited by U.S. well being regulators for substandard sanitation and high quality management procedures.

Separately, Lilly is dealing with a federal felony investigation into alleged manufacturing irregularities involving one other of its U.S. factories in New Jersey, particulars of which have been first reported by Reuters earlier this yr. The recall of Glucagon kits made in Indianapolis is the primary indication of potential affected person hurt on account of latest manufacturing points on the firm’s crops.

“Lilly is deeply committed to manufacturing high-quality medicines for patients who need them—nothing is more important to us,” the corporate stated in a press release. “We take our obligations seriously and have rigorous quality systems in place to ensure compliance with stringent regulatory requirements.”

In all, roughly 66,000 Glucagon Emergency Kits have been affected by the recollects, Lilly spokeswoman Kathryn Beiser informed Reuters. She stated about 19,000 of these have been distributed to U.S. prospects and almost all the remaining in Canada. She stated the kits have been produced on the Indianapolis plant round May 2020. Beiser declined to say whether or not Lilly has acquired different stories of opposed occasions associated to the Glucagon kits.


The recalled Glucagon Emergency Kit was designed for diabetes sufferers whose blood sugar is plummeting, and who want to lift it shortly to keep away from problems that may embrace seizures or dying. The package consists of a vial, which is meant to comprise freeze-dried Glucagon powder, and a separate syringe crammed with liquid.

Normally, a caregiver inserts the liquid-filled syringe needle into the Glucagon vial with the intention to dilute the powder earlier than administering it. Lilly’s recall announcement stated the vial utilized by the stricken affected person contained liquid, as a substitute of powder.

The firm’s Indianapolis plant performs what is understood within the trade as “fill and finish” – receiving uncooked medication made at different services, placing them into vials and syringes, and delivery them to prospects.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspection data from March 2021 seen by Reuters cited quite a few quality-control violations at that plant, resembling workers failing to correctly monitor environmental situations the place the completed medication are made and failing to determine applicable procedures to forestall contamination.

The FDA inspectors stated they noticed lapses within the manufacturing of the Glucagon kits in addition to in Lilly’s COVID-19 antibody remedy bamlanivimab and several other different medication, in keeping with the inspection data, dated March 16. They concluded that Lilly should take steps to treatment the lapses however didn’t suggest regulatory motion on the a part of the FDA.

Lilly spokeswoman Beiser stated U.S. distribution of Glucagon Emergency Kits from the lot that was later recalled had ceased by March 25, somewhat greater than every week after the FDA inspection report. Beiser stated the distribution of the lot adopted its common course of through wholesaler channels and was not associated to the FDA report, including that “any suggestion” it ended for other reasons is false.

Meanwhile, emergency kits from that same batch continued to be distributed in Canada, Beiser said. Distribution of 44,000 kits in Canada began in February 2021 and continued through the middle of September, she said. The patient complaint that triggered the late September recall involved a kit that had been shipped to Canada, Beiser told Reuters.

Beiser declined to comment specifically on why distribution of Glucagon Emergency Kits from the batch continued for another six months in Canada after distribution had ceased in the United States. She did not answer questions about whether the affected patient recovered.

Health Canada, a regulatory agency similar to the U.S. FDA, declined to comment about Lilly’s voluntary recall of the Glucagon Emergency Kits, or why kits from the batch continued to be distributed in Canada for months after they had ceased to be distributed in the United States.

The FDA declined to comment on distribution of the kits, whether it had received other reports of adverse events, had re-inspected Lilly’s Indianapolis facility or if it planned additional actions related to the recall.

“It is important to note that this recall was a voluntary action taken by the company,” FDA spokesman Jeremy Kahn said, without elaborating. “We have been closely evaluating this event and will continue to monitor the marketplace and manufacturing efforts to help ensure the availability of safe products for U.S. consumers.”


The recall comes as Lilly faces a criminal investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice into alleged manufacturing irregularities and records-tampering at a separate factory in Branchburg, New Jersey, that produces bamlanivimab and other drugs.

The Justice Department has not accused Lilly of any wrongdoing, and the company said earlier this year that it is cooperating in the probe. Lilly did not respond to a question from Reuters about the status of that investigation. The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment.

Bamlanivimab, the COVID-19 antibody, manufactured at the Branchburg facility has been sent to the Indianapolis fill-and-finish plant to be put into vials and shipped.

A group of FDA inspectors arrived at the Indianapolis plant in mid-February and stayed for more than two weeks, according to a redacted version of their report, which Reuters obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request.

In their report, the inspectors listed Glucagon as among the drugs where Lilly “failed to establish an adequate system for monitoring environmental conditions,” and noted that Lilly failed to establish and follow appropriate written procedures “to prevent microbiological contamination of drug products purporting to be sterile.”

In addition, the inspectors said Lilly did not properly conduct quality-control sampling of glass components like vials and pharmaceutical ingredients for drugs including Glucagon, bamlanivimab and the cancer drug Cyramza.

In Lilly’s April 6 response to the FDA obtained by Reuters through an open records request, the company said it takes the inspectors’ findings “very seriously” and is implementing actions to resolve concerns “on aggressive timelines.”

Lilly said it has established a comprehensive environmental monitoring program designed to assess microbiological control of manufacturing spaces, the redacted response said. The company did not respond to questions about the status of its efforts to rectify violations noted by the FDA at the Indianapolis plant.

Reporting by Dan Levine in San Francisco and Marisa Taylor in Washington, DC; Additional reporting by Allison Martell in Toronto; Editing by Michele Gershberg and Marla Dickerson

The logo of Lilly is seen on a wall of the Lilly France company unit, part of the Eli Lilly and Co drugmaker group, in Fegersheim near Strasbourg, France, February 1, 2018. Picture taken February 1, 2018. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler/File Photo

The logo of Lilly is seen on a wall of the Lilly France company unit, part of the Eli Lilly and Co drugmaker, in Fegersheim near Strasbourg, France, February 1, 2018. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

The logo of Lilly is seen on a wall of the Lilly France company unit, part of the Eli Lilly and Co drugmaker group, in Fegersheim near Strasbourg, France, February 1, 2018. Picture taken February 1, 2018. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler/File Photo