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For many years, sulfated beef insulin has been produced for insulin users. By 1993 there were 26 people taking sulfated beef insulin in Canada. By 1996 only 15 people were still using sulfated beef insulin.
According to a letter published in the September 1998 issue of Diabetes Care, 13 of the 15 patients still taking sulfated beef insulin were monitored while making a transition to human insulin.
The study was conducted by Andre Carpentier, MD, FRCPC, and was supported by a research grant from Novo Nordisk of Canada.
The study was undertaken to monitor the clinical condition of patients as they made their transition. Patients taking part in the study were measured for body weight, daily insulin dose requirements, frequency of injections, fasting glucose levels, and frequency of mild and severe hypoglycemia. During the course of the study, one of the patients died as a result of non-diabetes-related complications, and another patient had to withdraw after a suicide attempt.
Patients decreased their daily insulin dose by approximately 25 percent when switching from sulfated beef to human insulin, but dosages had to be increased. No patient suffered an allergic reaction as a result of introduction to human insulin, but the patients did experience an average weight gain of about five pounds. There was a significant increase in their daily insulin dose requirements (73 units at baseline versus 86 units after 12 weeks), and HbA1C levels increased during the course of the study (9.2 % at baseline versus 9.5 % after 12 weeks).
The researchers concluded that sulfated beef insulin is outdated and said that patients using sulfated beef insulin can safely make the transition to human insulin treatment.
Since the study was conducted, Novo Nordisk has discontinued the production of sulfated beef insulin. Beef-pork insulin will soon be unavailable in the United States.
Diabetes Health is the essential resource for people living with diabetes- both newly diagnosed and experienced as well as the professionals who care for them. We provide balanced expert news and information on living healthfully with diabetes. Each issue includes cutting-edge editorial coverage of new products, research, treatment options, and meaningful lifestyle issues.