The danger of "safe" insulin

I have been working with diabetes patients for over 20 years and over the last couple of years I have become aware of a utilisation problem of insulin by end-users. As you know, insulin used to be fragile, kept permanently between 2 and 8°C. However, over the last few years it has become more and more stable and can now be kept for a couple of weeks at under 25°C. This has now started entering into the every day life of diabetics who are being less and less careful with their insulin. Some diabetics actually just put their open insulin inside their jacket pocket, directly against the skin.

So what is insulin really?

In 1869 a German pathologist called Paul Langerhans (1847-1888) discovered a groups of specialized cells in the pancreas that make and secrete hormones. Because they looked like small islands, he called them the “Islets of Langerhans”. The word insulin is thus derived from the Latin word insula “island”.

In 1921, Frederick Grant Banting and Charles H. Best discovered insulin while they were working in the laboratory of John J.R. Macleod at the University of Toronto. Banting and Best extracted material from the pancreas of dogs. They first used this material to keep diabetic dogs alive and in 1922 they used it successfully on a 14-year-old boy with diabetes. In 1923, Banting and Macleod were awarded the Nobel Prize. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved insulin for human use in 1939.

Insulin was the first hormone to be synthesized completely in a laboratory, a feat accomplished in 1966 by the American worker Michael Katsoyannis and scientists in China. The first recombinant human insulin was approved by the FDA in 1982.

Insulin was originally extremely fragile, having to be stored permanently at a temperature between 2 and 8°C. And gradually, over the last 15 years it has become more stable and less sensitive to ambient heat. Today, most insulins can be kept for several weeks at a temperature under 25°C, some even up to 30°C. But patients are misusing this fact in everyday life and more often than not keep their open insulin at temperature far exceeding the recommended temperature.

Insulin is still very sensitive to heat exposure, and according to a study published by Vimalavthini & Gitanjali ("Effect of temperature on the potency & pharmacological action of insulin"), storage at 32°C and 37°C showed a 14 to 18% per cent decrease in potency of insulin in both the formulations on the 28th day. In this study, rabbits receiving insulin stored in 32°C and 37°C did not show a significant decrease in blood sugar level when compared to those receiving insulin stored at 5°C. Improper storage of insulin decreases the potency and hence the pharmacological action of insulin.

So basically, if temperature is kept at higher than recommended temperature it becomes ineffective.

The future is friendly

So I have been working with a German chemical company on this problem and have developed the new EasyBag Single which is made specially for transporting insulin. It consists of a bag with an inner pocket that simply soaks in water and becomes a cooling gel that keeps insulin between 16 and 25°C for 4 days without electricity. It is truly the most useful device for the every day life of diabetics today.

Discover the EasyBag and other MedActiv solutions for the transport of medication on www.medactiv.com

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© 2019, Uwe Diegel