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FDA Alert Against Insulin Pen Sharing

Posted by Jane Akre
Friday, March 20, 2009 11:19 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family, In The Workplace
Tags: Hepatitis C, Insulin, Diabetes, Insulin Pen, HIV, Public Health, Blood-Borne Disease

Insulin pen sharing is the subject of this FDA alert.



IMAGE SOURCE:  Wikimedia Commons/ pre-filled insulin pen/ author: PerPlex

The FDA is warning that patients should not share insulin cartridges and pens, even if the needles are switched out.

Thousands of patients at two Army hospitals shared the equipment regularly. Now some report they have contracted hepatitis C and the FDA cautions that they also risk the sharing of HIV and blood-borne diseases.

An insulin pen or cartridge has enough insulin for several doses to be given to a diabetic. They are technically approved for one person but can be shared over several.  

The move to save money was practiced at the William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, Texas where more than 2,000 diabetic patients received insulin injections by reused pens in 2007.

Now the hospital is contacting patients who practiced the sharing of insulin delivery devices to screen for blood-borne disease. While some have tested positive for hepatitis C, the source of their disease has not been established. 

Another Army hospital, Fort Polk’s Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital in Louisiana, has reported 15 potentially affected patients after the sharing program. 

The FDA Alert warns against sharing insulin pens between patients and to consider identifying an injection pen with the name of the patient.

Never share needles and dispose of each after an injection.  #

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