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New research is causing quite a stir among patient advocacy groups, diabetes experts, and insulin makers.
When Alan Carter, PharmD, adjunct professor from the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) School of Pharmacy, bought vials of insulin at a number of pharmacies in Kansas and Missouri, he was alarmed that, on average, the vials had less than 1.5 of what was listed on the label and none met a minimum standard, which is 95 units per milliliter upon release. Without enough insulin, diabetes patients are at risk for serious complications.
The study tested only 18 vials of insulin. In a UMKC article posted about the research, Carter said his hope is that a larger, fully comprehensive study will be conducted sampling both the U.S. and European supply chains to examine any impact the supply chain may have on insulin. In the UMKC article, Carter said he thinks the insulin he tested could have gotten too cool or too warm somewhere between the factory and the pharmacy. This would have caused the molecules to break apart. Another theory is that insulin molecules might stick together tightly during shipping and storage, causing some clumps to remain when a dose is given.