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[IP] Forbes.Com: America's Riskiest Drugs: Insulin

Another reason to pump - only one insulin!  Another reason not let hospital
personnel give you your insulin (most of the time)

 <A HREF="http://www.forbes.com/2003/02/24/cx_mh_0224insulin.html">Forbes.com:
America's Riskiest Drugs: Insulin</A>

Medical Errors
America's Riskiest Drugs: Insulin
>Matthew Herper</A>, 02.24.03, 7:00 AM ET

Drug Involved in Errors: Insulin. Brands include Humolog from Eli Lilly
(nyse: <A
tml?tkr=LLY">LLY</A> - <A
HREF="http://www.forbes.com/markets/company_news.jhtml?ticker=LLY">news </A>-
er=LLY">people </A>), Novolog from Novo Nordisk (nyse: <A
tml?tkr=NVO">NVO</A> - <A
HREF="http://www.forbes.com/markets/company_news.jhtml?ticker=NVO">news </A>-
people </A>) and Lantus from Aventis (nyse: <A
tml?tkr=AVE">AVE</A> - <A
HREF="http://www.forbes.com/markets/company_news.jhtml?ticker=AVE">news </A>-
er=AVE">people </A>).

Indication: Diabetes.

7 <A HREF="http://www.forbes.com/2003/02/24/cx_mh_0224risk.html">America's
Riskiest Drugs</A>
    - <A
    - <A
    - <A
    - <A
    - <A
7 <A HREF="http://www.forbes.com/2003/02/24/cx_mh_0224confusion.html">Deadly
Drug Name Mix-Ups</A>
7 <A HREF="http://www.forbes.com/2003/02/24/cx_mh_0224hospital.html">Slide
Show: The Hospital Of The Future</A>
7 <A HREF="http://www.forbes.com/2003/02/24/cx_mh_0224medication.html">Tips
For Preventing Medication Errors</A>
7 <A HREF="http://forums.prospero.com/fdctech/messages/?msg=22">Poll: What's
the best way to prevent harmful drug mix-ups?</A>

*Error Risk Rank: 1

Typical Causes of Error: There are many forms of insulin on the market, and
many patients need more than one. For instance, a patient might need both
fast-acting and long-acting varieties. Different types of insulins can be
similarly colored (for instance, many are clear, while others are cloudy).
Even names can add to the confusion: There have been many instances in which
Lantus, a long-acting insulin, has been confused with lente, an older

Possible Complications: Without proper doses of insulin, patients feel weak
and lapse into a coma or die. Extra sugar in the blood can build up and
damage the kidneys, eyes, blood vessels and nerves.

Improvements on the Horizon: Because most insulin errors are the result of
confusing various forms and doses of the drug, great hope is being pinned on
electronic error correction systems, like those made by General Electric
(nyse: <A
tml?tkr=GE">GE</A> - <A
HREF="http://www.forbes.com/markets/company_news.jhtml?ticker=GE">news </A>-
er=GE">people </A>) and health care technology firm McKesson (nyse: <A
MCK</A> - <A
HREF="http://www.forbes.com/markets/company_news.jhtml?ticker=MCK">news </A>-
er=MCK">people </A>). These systems, which do things like automatically check
ing for adverse drug interactions and dosage levels, are being deployed in
hospitals nationwide and may significantly reduce errors.

"The error reduction will be phenomenal," says Francine Kaufman, head of
endocrinology at the Children's Hospital in Los Angeles and president of the
American Diabetes Foundation.

But technological solutions can only go so far. In order to prevent errors,
more money must be spent to keep doctors, nurses and patients up to date on
the ballooning number of available medicines. "Education is the key," says
Matthew Riddle, a professor of medicine at Oregon Health & Science
University. "There are just so many medications on the market that no one can
keep them all straight."

The problem is going to be around for a while. Although biotechs like Amylin
(nasdaq: <A
tml?tkr=AMLN">AMLN</A> - <A
HREF="http://www.forbes.com/markets/company_news.jhtml?ticker=AMLN">news </A>-
er=AMLN">people </A>) are looking for better diabetes medicines,
insulin is likely to remain one of the best ways to treat both adult and
childhood diabetes. "Caution's good, and reasonable safeguards are
important," says Kaufman. "But on the other hand, people are scared to death
to give somebody an insulin injection."

*Error risk rank is based on the number of harmful errors tracked by U.S. Ph
armacopeia, a nonprofit organization based in Rockville, Md.
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