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From Scarsdale, NY, USA:

My 9 year-old son, diagnosed 3 months ago, uses 3 types of insulin, often in combination: Humalog, Humulin R and Humulin L, all made by Eli Lilly. Two of the caps on the bottles are the same color, seemingly increasing the likelihood that the wrong bottle will be grabbed and an incorrect dosage administered -- we have done this several times and fortunately before injecting, and assume there may be instances of the same in medical centers. Why doesn't the FDA mandate that all insulin bottle tops have distinctive color caps? Whom can we contact to pursue our question?


FDA is sitting, literally and spiritually, on a rule for color coding. All the players, the Diabetes Associations, the drug companies, the advocacy groups, etc., have all agreed on such. It beats me why nothing has been done. I was actually at the meetings with FDA.


Additional comments from Dr. Tessa Lebinger:

An easy/inexpensive way to deal with this is to mark each Vial yourself with a Different Colored waterproof marker using the abbreviation for the insulin. "R" for Regular, "L" for Lente, "U" for Ultralente. You need not mark the Humalog vial (By the way which is marked as Humalog and not as "H"), because at the present time Humalog is the only insulin that has a magenta rim on the top (both the removable cap and the rim at the top of the bottle are magenta) All the other insulins have orange removable tops and rims.

Many years ago, before the present U100 strength insulin, the bottles were actually shaped differently for different types of insulin (round, hexagon and others I don't remember. This was a big help.


[Editor's comment: There are several products that you can use to help distinguish between different insulin vials. See Insuleeve and Insulcap. JSH]

Original posting 25 Jan 2000
Posted to Insulin


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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:09:08
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