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Sharps safety vital for diabetes

February 27, 2015

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has called for stronger labels on sharps devices to help limit the risk of disease transmission. According to the body's latest announcement on the topic, manufacturers will be required to include prominent warnings to tell patients not to share the needles with other people.

Released earlier this week (February 25th), the safety statement said the new label rules should help "reduce the serious risk of infection" when users share insulin pens and other injectable diabetes medications, "even [when] the needle is changed."

"Sharing pens can result in the spread of serious infections from one patient to another," said the FDA. 

It read: "To promote safe use, we are requiring that pens and packaging containing multiple doses of insulin and other injectable diabetes medicines display a warning label stating 'For single patient use only'."

Although the health risks of sharing needles may seem obvious to most people, especially those who have been diagnosed as diabetic and regularly have to inject themselves, the FDA says that many people are unaware of the danger.

According to the regulator, there have been reports of thousands of patients who have potentially been exposed to infections that are transmitted through blood because they have shared multi-dose pen devices for insulin and other injectable diabetes medicines since 2008. However, none of these cases have been confirmed, but the body highlights that the source of infection is often difficult to identify.

In response to the reports of potential exposure, FDA and other organisations have issued multiple safety alerts, including a 2009 FDA Health Care Professional Sheet, and launched campaigns warning against the sharing of insulin pens.

The latest guidelines come six years after the FDA launched its drug safety information campaign, which looked to target healthcare professionals and reduce their risk of disease transmission associated with the devices.

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