What to do if Your Consultant Refuses to Change You to Animal Insulin

GM Vs animal insulin

Choices – The Evidence
Evidence from people with diabetes
A little bit of history
Action and duration times of animal and GM ‘human’ insulins
Hypoglycaemia and loss of warnings
‘Dead in Bed Syndrome’
The concerns of patients are justified
Availability of animal insulins in the UK
Changing your insulin
What to do if your consultant refuses to change your insulin
Availability of animal insulin if admitted to hospital
Frequently asked questions
Allergic reactions to insulin


What to do if your consultant refuses to change your insulin

Unfortunately IDDT continues to receive reports from people that their consultant, or GP, is refusing to change their insulin from GM ‘human’ or analogue to animal. People also report that they are too nervous to ask their doctor to change them. Some specialist nurses are also refusing to allow people to change insulin. The reason for this refusal is hard to understand especially as the Cochrane Review [July 2002] has shown that GM ‘human’ insulin is not superior to animal insulin and has no clinical advantages over animal insulin. There is nothing to be gained by this refusal for either the doctor or the patient and it merely serves to hinder the doctor/patient relationship because the patient feels not listened to, not understood, frustrated and angry.

IDDT’s advice in this situation:

  • Before your appointment with the doctor, make a list of your reasons for wanting to change so that you don’t forget anything.
  • Discuss your desire to change with your GP, he/she may well write to your consultant or just make the change for you.
  • Take your partner or a friend with you to the clinic so that they can back you, especially if they recognise the changes in you or have to deal with your hypos.
  • Discuss your concerns with your consultant in a non-aggressive way and ask to change to animal insulin.
  • Be calm and forceful. Remember there was probably no good reason for prescribing ‘human’ insulin for you in the first place other than accepted policy and there is no research that shows it to be better than animal insulin. So if your doctor says ‘there is no difference’ take the opportunity and say ‘Well then, I’ll try animal insulin for 6 months, thank you.’
  • If all else fails, ask your doctor for the evidence from research for his refusal to prescribe animal insulins. Remember your rights as a patient include the right to be given a clear explanation of any treatment proposed, including risks and alternatives BEFORE YOU decide whether YOU will agree to the treatment. Your alternatives are GM ‘human’ insulin or natural animal insulin.

NB. If your doctor has failed or fails to give you this choice and information then he/she is actually in breach of his/her NHS contractual rights.