By Wil Dubois
Joel Grossman’s bad day didn’t start when he dropped his insulin vial. It didn’t start when it shattered on his kitchen floor. It didn’t start when he ended up in the Emergency Room with shards of glass embedded in his foot. Joel Grossman’s bad day started when he called his pharmacy for a replacement and was told his health insurance didn’t cover replacements.
He had to pay out of pocket, $128.
That bad day looked pretty good compared to his next bad day. He purchased a “blanket” type vial protector to avoid having another bad day. It protected the vial, all right, but kept him from seeing which vial was which.
You guessed it. He took a night-time basal dose’s worth of fast acting and had an epic low. At this rate the ER was going to give him a frequent shopper discount.
The now 73-year-old inventor and designer, who once worked for Calvin Klein, knew there had to be a better way. He spent the next three years toying first with rubber bands, then Velcro, and finally silicone sheets—ultimately perfecting his design and launching it as VialSafe earlier this year. And it’s like nothing else out there.
At a glance it looks like a “skin” for an insulin vial. It wraps quickly and easily around your vial, leaving the top open for a syringe. It has a large window so you can see the label, expiration date, and the amount left in the vial; and it protects the vial from falls of up to 30 feet, that maximum Grossman has tested because he’s not too keen on heights.
The skin, made of a milky-clear hypo-allergenic silicone, is custom-molded in two sizes for a glove-like fit on either the standard-sized insulin vials or the tall Lantus shapes, and protects the vials both while traveling and while in use.
Grossman has already sold over a thousand VialSafes through his website, Amazon, and eBay. As of yet, he’s not in any bricks-and-mortar stores, but he’s come out of retirement and is beating the bushes to make it happen. He talks enthusiastically about future plans to make colorful animal-styled VialSafe designs for children, private label designs with company logos, and rhinestone-studded designer models in vivid colors. His old boss would be proud.
Grossman, who’s had diabetes for over 30 years, still uses vials and syringes. As do fully half of insulin users in America. And that doesn’t count all insulin pump users, who also fill their machines from vials. That’s a lot of vials to keep safe.
I’ve never broken a vial before (knock on wood), although I’ve dropped them dozens of times. That said, almost every person with diabetes I know—and I know a lot—has broken a vial at some point or another.
VialSafe sells for less than ten bucks. That’s cheap insurance for your one hundred-dollar insulin vials, and it’s pretty amazing d-Tech!