The FDA has issued a drug safety communication to inform people with diabetes that injection pens are for single patient use only and should not be shared with others.

The communication follows reports that thousands of people in America may be increasing their risk of contracting bloodborne diseases and pathogens through sharing multi-dose injection pens.

Injection pens are used by a large number of people with diabetes for injecting medications such as insulin, GLP-1 receptor agonists (such as Victoza and Byetta) and Symlin.

Whilst multi-dose injection pens allow needles to be changed for every injection, that is not to say they are safe to be shared as pathogens could get into the medication itself presenting a significant infection risk. People are advised not to share their injection pens with anyone else, no matter how well you know them, to prevent passing on infectious diseases including HIV and hepatitis.

Changes to labelling

The FDA will introduce a new warning on all multi-dose injection pen devices stating: “For single patient use only”.

Within the drug safety communication, the FDA reports on a number of cases whereby large numbers of patients were exposed to a risk of bloodborne infections. In one example, in August 2011, 2,345 patients in Wisconsin were notified of the potential of infection following reports that injection pens and lancing devices were being shared across patients.

The summary of the communication for patients is to never share your injection pen with anyone else, no matter how close to you they may be.