Back to Ask the Diabetes Team Ask the Diabetes Team

How many diabetics will die before the medical profession can see that these human insulins do have very adverse affects to many diabetics? Check out the FDA's 1995 list for the top 10 most reported drugs for adverse reactions! Human insulin was #8. Maybe it will take the remaining 900,000 animal insulin users to show them the error of their ways. Who is going to be accountable?


When human insulin first came out a study was published suggesting that there may be an increased death rate related to human insulin. The suggestion was that human insulin caused more unawareness of hypoglycemia than animal insulin. Although there have been a few more studies that have re-raised this question, there has been no significant evidence or information to support this contention. In the DCCT, for example, in which 770 Type 1 diabetic subjects were tightly controlled (mean HbA1c 7.2%) using human insulin there was not a single death attributable to hypoglycemia over a 9 year period.

Data exists on the immunogenicity of animal vs. human insulins (animal are obviously worse) and I am not aware of any significant increase in frequency of adverse events with human insulins, except of course the potentially higher rate of hypoglycemia (human insulins are usually faster acting, peak earlier and have a shorter duration of action than their corresponding animal insulins).


[Editor's comment: As Dr. Ricordi points out, large studies do not support the idea that semisynthetic human insulin is deadly-dangerous. Clearly, there are some people who are doing well on animal-source insulin (pig or cattle origin), who are distressed at the thought that they might have to switch to human insulin someday in the near future as many manufacturers of insulin discontinue the production of animal-source insulin. But, in my opinion, the writer of this letter is overreacting: human insulins are not more dangerous than animal insulins. Indeed, since human insulins cause less allergic reactions, one could even say that they're safer to use than animal insulins. (It is true that when people switch from animal-source insulin to human insulin, they must watch closely for more hypoglycemia. But the hypoglycemia is very very unlikely to be lethal, as the writer worries.) WWQ]

Original posting 13 Jul 1998
Posted to Insulin


  Back to Ask the Diabetes Team Return to the Top of This Page

Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:58
This Internet site provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. If you have any concerns about your own health or the health of your child, you should always consult with a physician or other health care professional.

This site is published by T-1 Today, Inc. (d/b/a Children with Diabetes), a 501c3 not-for-profit organization, which is responsible for its contents. Our mission is to provide education and support to families living with type 1 diabetes.
By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use, Legal Notice, and Privacy Policy.
© Children with Diabetes, Inc. 1995-2018. Comments and Feedback.