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I learned of this last week, and while I think it is the right move, I still question whether it will make a meaningful difference. The main issue is that these plans only work if ALL manufacturers agree to adopt them. Novo Nordisk A/S has testified before the FDA on this topic and says it does support color-coding, but whether they agree with Lilly's corporate decision to unilaterally adopt a color scheme remains to be seen, as the regulators have not mandated anything officially. A case in point is the fact that Lilly adopted magenta (burgundy) as the color scheme for the crimp and cap intended for Humalog to communicate that it was a rapid-acting analogue back in 1996, but rivals Novo Nordisk and Sanofi Aventis subsequently introduced "me-too" rapid-acting analogues and did not adopt the same color scheme, which killed its widespread effectiveness (even if it did work for Lilly).

Regulators really should be chiming in here, and the FDA's failure to do so sets a poor precedent on its concern about patient safety, which explains why in April 2008, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) reported a marked increase in reports about mixups between insulin U-100 and insulin U-500 earlier this year, and made some recommendations for pharmacies to help avoid mixups, including having the major suppliers of drug information systems to add the word "concentrated" on their computerized selection screens, immediately following the drug name and preceding "U-500".

Would these warnings have even been needed if a universally-adopted color scheme had been adopted by the FDA? One has to wonder!

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