Reusable Insulin Pens

Two types of insulin pens are being sold on the market today: disposable insulin pens and reusable insulin pens. While these pens offer a lot of advantages over syringes and bottled insulin, each type of pen provides specific benefits for the user.

Which Insulin Pen is Right for You?

BD reusable insulin pensWhether you’re using either a disposable or reusable insulin pen, it is critical to know how much insulin you need at any particular time, and just how precise your dosage has to be.

Insulin pens can deliver incremental doses of one-half, one, or two units. Maximum dose from a single injection can range from 21 up to 80 units.

Children, for instance, may require a pen that administers incremental half-unit doses of insulin for mealtime. If you take a daily injection of long-acting basal, you’ll require an insulin pen that can deliver a larger dose.

Features of Reusable Insulin Pens

Reusable insulin pens use replaceable cartridges that are sold separately. The Pen will last for several years, the cartridges are replaced.

Each cartridge holds either 150 or (more commonly) 300 units of insulin. They are most often sold in a box of five cartridges. When the cartridge is empty, you dispose of it and replace it with a new cartridge.

Depending on how much insulin you require, a single cartridge may provide you with a week of injections.

Needles for Reusable Insulin Pens

Both disposable and reusable insulin pens use a pen needle. These needles are a lot cheaper than buying insulin syringes. For every injection, just screw on a new needle, dial in the dose you require, insert the needle into your skin, and press the button to administer the insulin.

How to Store Reusable Insulin Pens

While the insulin cartridges can be stored in your refrigerator before use, reusable pens should never be kept inside the refrigerator. The pens work best when stored at room temperature.

If a pen with a cartridge has been stored at room temperature for over 28 days, it is advised to dispose of the cartridge along with the remaining insulin, and use a fresh cartridge instead.

Consult your physician about reusable insulin pens to know which one is best for your condition.


Insulin Pen Buyers Guide

How To Choose Your Insulin Pen

General Guidelines

choose your insulin penYou can lead a happy, long and productive life despite having diabetes. The key is keeping your blood sugar level as normal or near normal as possible.  You can do this by eating healthy, keeping yourself active, exercising regularly and using proper medication, including insulin. A growing number of Americans have chosen insulin pens over the traditional syringes-insulin vials. Obviously, choosing your insulin pen should not be a hit and miss affair!


Think COST-EFFECTIVE (in the important long run)

  • Although insulin pens are initially more expensive than syringes and insulin vials, insulin pens can be more cost-effective in the long run. This is especially true if you are like many people who may resist injections with a syringe. Most find it too painful or hard to do properly, or just too scarey. This may cause your blood-glucose levels to spike and affect your health negatively. Should you prefer to shift to pens, use them consistently to have better control your blood-glucose levels.
  • Reusable pens are cheaper than disposable pens, but they are slightly more complex to use. You only have to change the needles and insulin (which may be covered by health plans and Medicare prescription drug coverage). The pen can last for several years.
  • Disposable pens pre-filled with insulin will cost more but offer you ease of use. Unlike reusable pens, you don’t have to load it with new insulin cartridges, which may be quite difficult for people who have serious problems with dexterity, hearing and vision. Therefore, this may make disposable pens a better value if you have these issues.


  • Is the pen you’ve chosen “compatible” with the brand and types of insulin or mixture of insulins prescribed by your doctor?  For instance, some pens will only take Eli Lilly insulin cartridges while others may take only Novo Nordisk insulin cartridges.
  • Insulin cartridges are available in 1.5mL or 3.0mL and you have to make sure that they will fit your pen.  A 1.5mL or 150 U insulin cartridge will not fit in a 3.0mL or 300 U pen.


  • The numbers on the dosage dial should be easy to read and, therefore, a big yes for older diabetics
  • The insulin pen itself should be small enough to be carried with ease and used without attracting unwanted attention. In the case of most children, the pens are designed NOT to look like a medical device.
  • The pen should indicate by an audible click or a clear sign that the needle has been attached and that the full amount of insulin has been injected.
  • The device should be able to finely and accurately adjust the insulin dosage in 2, 1 and ½ increments.
  • The pen should indicate how much insulin is left in the cartridge or pen.
  • The shorter and finer needles used in some pens make shots almost painless.


Insulin pens are getting smarter by the day. New digital insulin pens were recently unveiled in September 2011 at a meeting of the the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.  Among other innovations, the pens record your last 100 injections including how many units of insulin were injected and the date and time of the injections. You can even transfer this data from the insulin pen via a USB cable to a computer.

CDC Warns Against Improper Use of Insulin Pens

CDC Warns Against Improper Use of Insulin Pens

While insulin pens are convenient, accurate, and user-friendly devices for the effective management of diabetes, their improper use can put their users at risk for various infections.

Due to this, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a warning about the health risks involved in sharing insulin pens.

The CDC warning was issued in the light of the growing incidents where patients are put at risk by the reuse and sharing of insulin pens.

Below is an excerpt of the warning found on the CDC website.


CDC Clinical Reminder: Insulin Pens Must Never Be Used for More than One Person

Insulin pens are pen-shaped injector devices that contain a reservoir for insulin or an insulin cartridge. These devices are designed to permit self-injection and are intended for single-person use. In healthcare settings, these devices are often used by healthcare personnel to administer insulin to patients. Insulin pens are designed to be used multiple times, for a single person, using a new needle for each injection. Insulin pens must never be used for more than one person. Regurgitation of blood into the insulin cartridge can occur after injection [1] creating a risk of bloodborne pathogen transmission if the pen is used for more than one person, even when the needle is changed.

In 2009, in response to reports of improper use of insulin pens in hospitals, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an alert for healthcare professionals reminding them that insulin pens are meant for use on a single patient only and are not to be shared between patients [2]. In spite of this alert, there have been continuing reports of patients placed at risk through inappropriate reuse and sharing of insulin pens, including an incident in 2011 that required notification of more than 2,000 potentially exposed patients [3]. These events indicate that some healthcare personnel do not adhere to safe practices and may be unaware of the risks these unsafe practices pose to patients.

Read the full article


Clinical Reminders for Using Insulin Pens

The CDC has given recommendations on how insulin pens should be labeled, handled, and administered, particularly in hospitals and other health care facilities where they are used.



Anyone using insulin pens should review the following recommendations to ensure that they are not placing persons in their care at risk for infection.

  • Insulin pens containing multiple doses of insulin are meant for use on a single person only, and should never be used for more than one person, even when the needle is changed.
  • Insulin pens should be clearly labeled with the person’s name or other identifying information to ensure that the correct pen is used only on the correct individual.
  • Hospitals and other facilities should review their policies and educate their staff regarding safe use of insulin pens and similar devices.
  • If reuse is identified, exposed persons should be promptly notified and offered appropriate follow-up including bloodborne pathogen testing.

These recommendations apply to any setting where insulin pens are used, including assisted living or residential care facilities, skilled nursing facilities, clinics, health fairs, shelters, detention facilities, senior centers, schools, and camps as well as licensed healthcare facilities. Protection from infections, including bloodborne pathogens, is a basic expectation anywhere healthcare is provided. Use of insulin pens for more than one person, like other forms of syringe reuse [4], imposes unacceptable risks and should be considered a ‘never event’.

Read the full article

An insulin pen is intended for single-person use, and not to be shared with anybody. Just like traditional syringes, both reusable and disposable insulin pens can also be a means in spreading dread blood-borne diseases such as AIDS when shared or used improperly.


If you are a diabetic and need to know more about insulin pens, please click on this link to get more information.

Step By Step Guide on How to Use an Insulin Pen

Step By Step Guide on How to Use an Insulin Pen

Insulin pens were designed to allow patients to administer insulin to themselves in a fast, accurate, and safe manner. While there are millions of diabetic patients today who use these devices for their insulin doses, many users are not properly trained on their proper use.

In an article on the subject posted on the Check With Your Pharmacist website, the author points out that pharmacist who sell and health care providers who use insulin pens are inadequately trained in the use of these products. They also cause some confusion on patients who have to use these pens right out of the box.



The biggest challenge that insulin users face is that each type of insulin pen has slightly different instructions for use. While the whole process is the same, each pen looks different. Lilly, which produces the Humulin products, uses a different kind of pen than Novo-Nordisk does for its Novolin line. Toss in Sanofi which produces Lantus Solostar and you have instant confusion.

The author wrote that to ensure successful insulin delivery, the user needs to have a new pen needle, alcohol pads, and an insulin pen with the prescribed insulin type. Below is an excerpt from the guide on how to use an insulin pen correctly.

After ensuring that all the necessary items are gathered, it is time to prepare for the injection. The following steps are general in nature and will work with all manufacturers.

  • First take the cover off of the insulin pen to expose the tip where the needle screws on.
  • Next inspect the pen to ensure that the right insulin is being used.
  • Take a look at the insulin to make sure it is a consistent mixture throughout. If it is not, place the insulin pen flat between the palms of the hands and gently flip the palms over and over ten times.
Read the entire article on

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