Diabetic questions safety of insulin in light of heparin scandal

Meet Allie Beaty. As a diabetic, her life depends on insulin. She wants to make a difference for others like her, make “the world safer for people with diabetes,” she says on her Web page, So Allie established a diabetes think group and shares ”Love Diabetes” videos on YouTube to push her mission.

Allie recently posted a video on YouTube in light of the heparin scandal, asking “Is my insulin tainted?” Last year, more than 80 Americans died and hundreds more were sickened after receiving doses of the blood thinner heparin. An investigation found that batches of heparin manufactured at Baxter International’s China facility had been contaminated. That led to a recall, and further questions about the quality of the foods and drugs imported into the United States from foreign countries, especially China.

Demanding answers, Allie made phone calls to insulin companies and 24 hours later, reported on her results. Her first call was to Sanofi Aventis, a pharmaceutical company based in Bridgewater, NJ. Sanofi Aventis manufactures medications such as Allegra, Ambien, and Ketek as well as diabetes medications such as insulin glargine injection Lantus and insulin gluisine injection Apidra. Allie reports that she was able to speak with a customer service representative with Sanofi Aventis who informed her that the raw materials are manufactured in Germany and are “completely FDA approved and do not come from China.”

Allie compared her attempts to reach Eli Lilly and Company’s customer service as being in the “twilight zone.” Her repeated calls “during normal business hours” were either cut off or unanswered. Lilly is the 10th largest pharmaceutical company in the world and offers a variety of products. It’s diabetes products include Byetta, Gluagon and Humulin.

Allie then called Novo Nordisk, a manufacturer and marketer of pharmaceutical products and services headquartered in Denmark. Novo Nordisk offers a line of diabetes products such as insulin pens, needles and hypokits. She was told that its diabetes products are bottled in North Carolina.  Its FlexPen is manufactured in Denmark. Customer Service assured her they follow FDA guidelines and run batch tests to ensure safety.