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First insulin pen for pets approved

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first insulin injection pen for diabetic cats and dogs, the agency announced March 19.

Merck Animal Health’s VetPen may now be used to administer Vetsulin insulin cartridges, also made by Merck. The refillable VetPen, which looks like a writing pen, automatically measures the prescribed insulin dose, the FDA said.

The FDA said the approval “provides consumers with an additional option for insulin delivery.” Merck said the VetPen is easier to dose and administer -- and is more accurate -- than traditional delivery systems, such as syringes and vials.

“For years, insulin pens have made managing diabetes more convenient for human diabetics,” the company said. “Merck Animal Health … has now brought the same technology to veterinary medicine.”

VetPen will initially be offered in "a number of veterinary clinics" throughout the United States, but "the exact number has not been determined at this point," Merck said. An online video explains how to use VetPen, known as Caninsulin VetPen in non-U.S. markets.

Vetsulin was taken off the market in 2011 after manufacturing tests showed that batches of the drug "may have been compromised by bacterial contamination," according to the FDA. The product was reintroduced to the market in 2013, and the agency said it continues to monitor its use.

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