Manufactured insulin, 'Iletin', United States, 1923

1923 in Indianapolis
Eli Lilly and Company

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Left 1993-1388 Ampoule of early standardised insulin prepared at the National Institute for Medical Research,
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Ampoule of 5cc of Iletin (insulin) in carton, with instruction leaflet, manufactured by Eli Lilly & Company, Indianapolis, USA, 1923.

Sold under the trade name ‘Iletin’, this was the first commercially available insulin product for people with diabetes, available from 1923 onwards. Eli Lilly, who made this product, worked with Frederick Banting (1891-1941) and Charles Best (1899-1971), the Canadian researchers who first isolated insulin in 1921. Banting and Best found that pig insulin was similar to human insulin. Pig pancreases were ground up in large numbers to extract insulin.


Object Number:
cardboard, glass, materia medica, paper (fibre product) and rubber (unidentified)
box: 23 mm x 59 mm x 20 mm,
bottle: 56 mm 16 mm,
  • furnishing and equipment
  • container - receptacle
  • vessel
  • furnishing and equipment
  • container - receptacle
  • vessel
  • drug
  • furnishing and equipment
  • container - receptacle
  • vessel
On loan from Eli Lilly & Co. Ltd.

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