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Diabetes

Mail order insulin

06/24/2008

Question:

My company`s insurance requires us to order a three month supply of insulin by mail order. It is trucked to Kentucky for new Jersey, and gets here in about 2 days. Although it arrives in a cooler, the ice packs are melted and the insulin is warm. Is this safe?

Answer:

The situation you are describing of mail order insulin arriving warm certainly raises concerns about the safety of the insulin.  Each insulin manufacturer specifies in the package insert (which is a document approved by the US Food and Drug Administration) what the temperature conditions are under which they have shown their insulin to be safe and effective.   If the insulin arrives cool, then you know that it had to be cool throughout its journey.  If it arrives at room temperature or above, then the cool packs evidently have melted and you don't know what the temperature range was to which the insulin was exposed during shipping.

I would say that this is a very serious matter and that you should notify your doctor, the pharmacy benefits company that shipped the insulin, the insurance company that is paying for it (or Medicare or Medicaid if that is the payor) and perhaps get some input from the insulin manufacturer about further specifics (there should be a web site or 800 phone # on the package insert).  If your prescription coverage is through your employer, I would probably let your employer's benefits office know as well.  I am not sure that there is a role for notifying the Food and Drug Administration on this.  If this is happening to you, it is a concern how many other people are experiencing the same problem and perhaps this issue needs to be raised more generally.

Thanks for writing and please let me know what response you get from these various entities. 

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Response by:

Robert M Cohen, MD Robert M Cohen, MD
Professor of Clinical Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati