Insulin For Delivery by Insulin Pens

With the availability of more types of insulin for pens in the United States, insulin pens are expected to become the dominant form of administering this life saving drug, as they already are in the developed nations of Europe and Asia.

About Insulin

Insulin is a hormone produced by the beta cells in your pancreas. It makes it possible for your body to use sugar or glucose by moving it from your blood to your cells. Unfortunately some people are unable to produce insulin. This is Type 1 diabetes. Other people either produce too little insulin or their cells ignore the insulin they produce. This is the more common Type 2 diabetes.

Without proper treatment, the sugar level of diabetics rises way above what is normal. Abnormally high blood sugar can make their blood vessels thicker and less elastic, damage their kidneys and eyes, increase the possibility of heart attacks and damage their nerves and senses.

Type I, Type II and Gestational Diabetes

People who get Type 1 diabetes have to take a specific dose of insulin for the rest of their lives. People with Type 2 diabetes may also need insulin or need it only during specific periods of time. Women who develop gestational diabetes when they are pregnant may also need insulin if they cannot keep their blood sugar at normal or near normal levels through healthy food choices, regular exercise and limiting calorie intake.

Types of Insulin

Insulin is a protein. If cannot be taken through the mouth or swallowed because it would only be digested by the body.  It is administered by being injected by the patient or caretaker in the fatty layer of tissue found just beneath the skin (subcutaneous).  It can also be given through a vein or injected into muscle but these methods are done by trained personnel.

Various types of insulin differ in composition, strength, onset, peak, and duration of action. Insulin may be composed of purified pork insulin or human insulin. Strength refers to the number of units in one cc of insulin, for instance 100 units in one cc. Onset refers to the amount of time it takes for the insulin to take effect after it is injected.  Peak refers to the length of time that the insulin works best while duration of action refers to how long the insulin works.

Types of Insulin Brands

Three brands  of insulin can be accessed in the United States:  Lilly (Humulin and Humalog), NovoNordisk (Novolin and Novolog) and Sanofi (Lantus and Apidra).

Sanofi is the manufacturer of Lantus, a basal insulin, and Apidra, a prandial insulin. Lantus is a long-acting insulin and is the only 24 hour insulin approved for use once a day. Apidra is a rapid-acting insulin for adults with type 2 diabetes or adults and children (4 years and older) with type 1 diabetes.

Your physician usually prescribes what type of insulin or mixtures of insulin is your best choice. Premixed insulin contains two kinds of insulin—one to control blood sugar the entire day and the other to control it during meals. Premixed insulin is now available for insulin pens.

Insulin Cartridges and Disposable Insulin Pens

Insulin cartridges are used in reusable insulin pens.  In the USA each cartridge usually contains 150-300 units of insulin. When it is used up you buy new cartridges. Disposable pens contain 300 units of insulin. Once begun the insulin lasts for 10-28 days. The entire pen is disposed of once the insulin has been used up.

Disposable pens and insulin cartridges are stored in the refrigerator, but never in the freezer, before they are used. Once used, they should be stored at room temperature. They should never be used beyond the expiration date that is marked on the cartridges or disposable insulin pens.