Special warnings and precautions for use
Transferring a patient to another type or brand of insulin should be done under strict medical supervision. Changes in strength, brand (manufacturer), type (regular, NPH, lente, etc.), species (animal, human, human insulin analogue), and/or method of manufacture (recombinant DNA versus animal-source insulin) may result in the need for a change in dosage. For fast-acting insulins, any patient also on basal insulin must optimise dosage of both insulins to obtain glucose control across the whole day, particularly nocturnal/fasting glucose control.
The shorter-acting Humalog should be drawn into the syringe first, to prevent contamination of the vial by the longer-acting insulin. Mixing of the insulins ahead of time or just before the injection should be on advice of the physician. However, a consistent routine must be followed.
Conditions which may make the early warning symptoms of hypoglycaemia different or less pronounced include long duration of diabetes, intensified insulin therapy, diabetic nerve disease or medications such as beta-blockers.
A few patients who have experienced hypoglycaemic reactions after transfer from animal-source insulin to human insulin have reported that the early warning symptoms of hypoglycaemia were less pronounced or different from those experienced with their previous insulin. Uncorrected hypoglycaemic or hyperglycaemic reactions can cause loss of consciousness, coma, or death.
The use of dosages which are inadequate or discontinuation of treatment, especially in insulin-dependent diabetics, may lead to hyperglycaemia and diabetic ketoacidosis; conditions which are potentially lethal.
Insulin requirements may be reduced in the presence of renal impairment. Insulin requirements may be reduced in patients with hepatic impairment due to reduced capacity for gluconeogenesis and reduced insulin breakdown; however, in patients with chronic hepatic impairment, an increase in insulin resistance may lead to increased insulin requirements.
Insulin requirements may be increased during illness or emotional disturbances.
Adjustment of dosage may also be necessary if patients undertake increased physical activity or change their usual diet. Exercise taken immediately after a meal may increase the risk of hypoglycaemia. A consequence of the pharmacodynamics of rapid-acting insulin analogues is that if hypoglycaemia occurs, it may occur earlier after an injection when compared with soluble human insulin.
Humalog should only be used in children in preference to soluble insulin when a fast action of insulin might be beneficial. For example, in the timing of the injections in relation to meals.
Interaction with other medicinal products and other forms of interaction
Insulin requirements may be increased by medicinal products with hyperglycaemic activity, such as oral contraceptives, corticosteroids, or thyroid replacement therapy, danazol, beta2 stimulants (such as ritodrine, salbutamol, terbutaline).
Insulin requirements may be reduced in the presence of medicinal products with hypoglycaemic activity, such as oral hypoglycaemics, salicylates (for example, acetylsalicylic acid), sulpha antibiotics, certain antidepressants (monoamine oxidase inhibitors), certain angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (captopril, enalapril), angiotensin II receptor blockers, beta-blockers, octreotide or alcohol.
The physician should be consulted when using other medications in addition to Humalog.
Pregnancy and lactation
Data on a large number of exposed pregnancies do not indicate any adverse effect of insulin lispro on pregnancy or on the health of the foetus/newborn.
It is essential to maintain good control of the insulin-treated (insulin-dependent or gestational diabetes) patient throughout pregnancy. Insulin requirements usually fall during the first trimester and increase during the second and third trimesters. Patients with diabetes should be advised to inform their doctor if they are pregnant or are contemplating pregnancy. Careful monitoring of glucose control, as well as general health, is essential in pregnant patients with diabetes.
Patients with diabetes who are breast-feeding may require adjustments in insulin dose, diet or both.
Effects on ability to drive and use machines
The patient’s ability to concentrate and react may be impaired as a result of hypoglycaemia. This may constitute a risk in situations where these abilities are of special importance (e.g. driving a car or operating machinery).
Patients should be advised to take precautions to avoid hypoglycaemia whilst driving, this is particularly important in those who have reduced or absent awareness of the warning signs of hypoglycaemia or have frequent episodes of hypoglycaemia. The advisability of driving should be considered in these circumstances.
Hypoglycaemia is the most frequent undesirable effect of insulin therapy that a patient with diabetes may suffer. Severe hypoglycaemia may lead to loss of consciousness, and in extreme cases, death. No specific frequency for hypoglycaemia is presented, since hypoglycaemia is a result of both the insulin dose and other factors e.g. a patient`s level of diet and exercise.
Local allergy in patients is common (1/100 to <1/10). Redness, swelling, and itching can occur at the site of insulin injection. This condition usually resolves in a few days to a few weeks. In some instances, this condition may be related to factors other than insulin, such as irritants in the skin cleansing agent or poor injection technique. Systemic allergy, which is rare (1/10,000 to <1/1,000) but potentially more serious, is a generalised allergy to insulin. It may cause a rash over the whole body, shortness of breath, wheezing, reduction in blood pressure, fast pulse, or sweating. Severe cases of generalised allergy may be life-threatening.
Lipodystrophy at the injection site is uncommon (1/1,000 to <1/100).
Insulins have no specific overdose definitions because serum glucose concentrations are a result of complex interactions between insulin levels, glucose availability and other metabolic processes. Hypoglycaemia may occur as a result of an excess of insulin activity relative to food intake and energy expenditure.
Hypoglycaemia may be associated with listlessness, confusion, palpitations, headache, sweating and vomiting.
Mild hypoglycaemic episodes will respond to oral administration of glucose or other sugar or saccharated products.
Correction of moderately severe hypoglycaemia can be accomplished by intramuscular or subcutaneous administration of glucagon, followed by oral carbohydrate when the patient recovers sufficiently. Patients who fail to respond to glucagon must be given glucose solution intravenously.
If the patient is comatose, glucagon should be administered intramuscularly or subcutaneously. However, glucose solution must be given intravenously if glucagon is not available or if the patient fails to respond to glucagon. The patient should be given a meal as soon as consciousness is recovered.
Sustained carbohydrate intake and observation may be necessary because hypoglycaemia may recur after apparent clinical recovery.
Last Update: 2 Nov 15