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Details with Side Effects
Changes In Insulin Regimen
Changes in insulin strength, manufacturer, type, or method of administration may affect glycemic control and predispose to hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia. These changes should be made cautiously and under close medical supervision and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring should be increased.
Hypoglycemia is the most common adverse reaction associated with insulins, including HUMULIN N. Severe hypoglycemia can cause seizures, may be life-threatening or cause death. Hypoglycemia can impair concentration ability and reaction time; this may place an individual and others at risk in situations where these abilities are important (e.g., driving or operating other machinery).
Hypoglycemia can happen suddenly and symptoms may differ in each individual and change over time in the same individual. Symptomatic awareness of hypoglycemia may be less pronounced in patients with longstanding diabetes, in patients with diabetic nerve disease, in patients using medications that block the sympathetic nervous system (e.g., beta-blockers) [see DRUG INTERACTIONS], or in patients who experience recurrent hypoglycemia.
Risk Factors for Hypoglycemia
The risk of hypoglycemia after an injection is related to the duration of action of the insulin and, in general, is highest when the glucose lowering effect of the insulin is maximal. As with all insulin preparations, the glucose lowering effect time course of HUMULIN N may vary in different individuals or at different times in the same individual and depends on many conditions, including the area of injection as well as the injection site blood supply and temperature [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY]. Other factors which may increase the risk of hypoglycemia include changes in meal pattern (e.g., macronutrient content or timing of meals), changes in level of physical activity, or changes to co-administered medication [see DRUG INTERACTIONS]. Patients with renal or hepatic impairment may be at higher risk of hypoglycemia [see Use In Specific Populations].
Risk Mitigation Strategies for Hypoglycemia
Patients and caregivers must be educated to recognize and manage hypoglycemia. Self-monitoring of blood glucose plays an essential role in the prevention and management of hypoglycemia. In patients at higher risk for hypoglycemia and patients who have reduced symptomatic awareness of hypoglycemia, increased frequency of blood glucose monitoring is recommended.
Severe, life-threatening, generalized allergy, including anaphylaxis, can occur with insulin products, including HUMULIN N. If hypersensitivity reactions occur, discontinue HUMULIN N; treat per standard of care and monitor until symptoms and signs resolve [see ADVERSE REACTIONS]. HUMULIN N is contraindicated in patients who have had hypersensitivity reactions to HUMULIN N or any of its excipients [see CONTRAINDICATIONS].
All insulin products, including HUMULIN N, cause a shift in potassium from the extracellular to intracellular space, possibly leading to hypokalemia. Untreated hypokalemia may cause respiratory paralysis, ventricular arrhythmia, and death. Monitor potassium levels in patients at risk for hypokalemia if indicated (e.g., patients using potassium-lowering medications, patients taking medications sensitive to serum potassium concentrations).
Fluid Retention And Heart Failure With Concomitant Use Of PPAR-gamma Agonists
Thiazolidinediones (TZDs), which are peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)-gamma agonists, can cause dose-related fluid retention, particularly when used in combination with insulin. Fluid retention may lead to or exacerbate heart failure. Patients treated with insulin, including HUMULIN N, and a PPAR-gamma agonist should be observed for signs and symptoms of heart failure. If heart failure develops, it should be managed according to current standards of care, and discontinuation or dose reduction of the PPAR-gamma agonist must be considered.
Patient Counseling Information
Advise the patient to read the FDA-approved patient labeling (Patient Information and Instructions for Use).
Instruct patients on self-management procedures including glucose monitoring, proper injection technique, and management of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia especially at initiation of HUMULIN N therapy. Instruct patients on handling of special situations such as intercurrent conditions (illness, stress, or emotional disturbances), an inadequate or skipped insulin dose, inadvertent administration of an increased insulin dose, inadequate food intake, and skipped meals. Instruct patients on the management of hypoglycemia.
Inform patients that their ability to concentrate and react may be impaired as a result of hypoglycemia. Advise patients who have frequent hypoglycemia or reduced or absent warning signs of hypoglycemia to use caution when driving or operating machinery [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Inform patients that accidental mix-ups between HUMULIN N and other insulins have been reported. Instruct patients to always carefully check that they are administering the correct insulin (e.g., by checking the insulin label before each injection) to avoid medication errors between HUMULIN N and other insulins.
Advise patients that hypersensitivity reactions have occurred with HUMULIN N. Inform patients on the symptoms of hypersensitivity reactions [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Females with Reproductive Potential
Advise females of reproductive potential with diabetes to inform their doctor if they are pregnant or are contemplating pregnancy [see Use In Specific Populations].
Visual Inspection Prior to Use
Instruct patients to visually inspect HUMULIN N before use and to use HUMULIN N only if it contains no particulate matter and appears uniformly cloudy after mixing [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].
Instruct patients not to use HUMULIN N after the printed expiration date.
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment Of Fertility
Carcinogenicity and fertility studies were not performed in animals. Biosynthetic human insulin was not genotoxic in the in vivo sister chromatid exchange assay and the in vitro gradient plate and unscheduled DNA synthesis assays.
Use In Specific Populations
Pregnancy Category B
All pregnancies have a background risk of birth defects, loss, or other adverse outcome regardless of drug exposure. This background risk is increased in pregnancies complicated by hyperglycemia and may be decreased with good metabolic control. It is essential for patients with diabetes or history of gestational diabetes to maintain good metabolic control before conception and throughout pregnancy. In patients with diabetes or gestational diabetes, insulin requirements may decrease during the first trimester, generally increase during the second and third trimesters, and rapidly decline after delivery. Careful monitoring of glucose control is essential in these patients. Therefore, female patients should be advised to tell their physicians if they intend to become, or if they become pregnant while taking HUMULIN N.
While there are no adequate and well-controlled studies of HUMULIN N in pregnant women, evidence from published literature suggests that good glycemic control in patients with diabetes during pregnancy provides significant maternal and fetal benefits.
Reproduction and fertility toxicity studies were not performed in animals.
Endogenous insulin is present in human milk; it is unknown whether HUMULIN N is present in human milk. Insulin orally ingested is degraded in the gastrointestinal tract. No adverse reactions associated with infant exposure to insulin through the consumption of human milk have been reported. Good glucose control supports lactation in patients with diabetes. Women with diabetes who are lactating may require adjustments in their insulin dose.
HUMULIN N has not been studied in pediatric patients. As in adults, the dosage of HUMULIN N in pediatric patients must be individualized based on metabolic needs, treatment goal and blood glucose monitoring results.
The effect of age on the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of HUMULIN N has not been studied [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY]. Patients with advanced age using any insulin, including HUMULIN N, may be at increased risk of hypoglycemia due to co-morbid disease and polypharmacy [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
The effect of renal impairment on the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of HUMULIN N has not been studied [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY]. Patients with renal impairment are at increased risk of hypoglycemia and may require more frequent HUMULIN N dose adjustment and more frequent blood glucose monitoring.
The effect of hepatic impairment on the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of HUMULIN N has not been studied [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY]. Patients with hepatic impairment are at increased risk of hypoglycemia and may require more frequent HUMULIN N dose adjustment and more frequent blood glucose monitoring.
Last reviewed on RxList: 1/27/2014
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
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