Insulin Prices: Pumps Pens Syringes And More
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The price of insulin can be overwhelming, especially if you need it to stay healthy. Even with insurance, you could be paying hundreds of dollars in out-of-pocket costs each month.
Insulin is absolutely necessary for people with type 1 diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes often need it as well. Roughly 7.4 million Americans with diabetes take insulin.
If you need to take insulin for diabetes, its essential to learn how to get the cost down to something you can afford, while simultaneously understanding how to manage your condition.
There are several types of devices available to deliver insulin, and each come with their own set of pros and cons.
The best insulin device for you depends on many factors, including how much your blood sugar fluctuates each day and your lifestyle.
Nowadays, cost is becoming an increasingly important factor to consider when deciding on a device.
Dosing With An Insulin Pen
Using a pen is quite easy. Once the cartridge is loaded, you simply screw on a pen needle, prime, if needed to clear out any air in the cartridge, dial the desired dose, inject the needle, and press the button to deliver the insulin. If you use a pen with an insulin suspension, such as NPH or a premixed insulin, you will need to gently shake the pen to be sure the insulin is mixed prior to use. Pens are easy enough for kids to use, and are excellent for use at school or while out and about.
Pen needles should be removed after each use to prevent air from entering the cartridge and to prevent insulin from leaking out. There are many different pen needles available, in varying lengths and diameters .
The smallest pen needles are very short and very thin and help minimize the discomfort of injection. Unlike syringes, pens need to be held in place for several seconds after the insulin is delivered to ensure that no insulin leaks out. Syringe users who switch to pens should pay close attention to the injection site and test their blood glucose often as they become accustomed to pen injections.
Dosing increments vary by pen, with some pens starting at 1/2 or 1 unit and allowing 1/2 unit dosing, while others dose in one or two unit increments. While pens offer injection convenience, they don’t allow mixing of multiple insulins, so if you inject short and long acting insulin together , you’ll double your number of injections.
Some Side Effects Can Be Serious If You Experience Any Of The Following Symptoms Call Your Doctor Immediately:
- rash and/or itching over the whole body
- shortness of breath
- large weight gain in a short period of time
- swelling of the arms, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online or by phone .
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Why Is Insulin More Expensive In America
Three pharmaceutical companiesNovo Nordisk, Sanofi-Aventis, and Eli Lillycontrol the market. The big three produce 90% of the global insulin supply and close to 100% of the U.S. insulin supply, says Feldman. Observers have noticed that the big three tend to mirror each others insulin price increases. When one raises prices, the others quickly follow.
Feldman says the companies have become adept at whats called evergreening. Evergreening involves various techniques to extend protection on a drug and block competition that can reduce prices.”
Evergreening includes both patent and non-patent rights exclusivities that shut out other drug makers from the insulin marketplace.
Many brand name drugs have a generic that becomes the preferred, cheaper alternative. However, the Food and Drug Administration has historically treated insulin as a drug and a biologic, which have different regulatory pathways.
Medications that are treated as highly similar to a biologic, or a medication made from living things, are called biosimilars, not generics. Biosimilars must go through a specific approval pathway.
The original brand name insulins went through the drug pathway rather than the biologic pathway. This meant competitors could not introduce a biosimilar insulin.
How To Pick An Insulin Pen With Your Doctors Help
So, which option is best for you? Isaacs suggests asking your healthcare team the following questions to determine the best fit:
- What are my insulin delivery options?
- What options will insurance cover?
- Would I benefit from having a dosing calculator to help calculate insulin doses?
- Would I benefit from a pen that helps keep track of all insulin doses?
- Would I benefit from a pen that knows when a previous insulin dose is still working in my system?
Insurance coverage will likely drive your choice, says Bzowyckyj. If you have multiple options, consider dexterity , whether youll need to administer partial doses, and whether you prefer a disposable pen or a reusable pen that has disposable cartridges, he says. Not everyone prefers to use an insulin pen, but those who do find it easier and much more convenient to use than the traditional vial and syringe, he says.
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How Do I Know If I Am Eligible
The InPen is available to people of all ages with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes using bolus dosing with Humalog, NovoLog, and Fiasp. This pen is for bolus dosing only and is not used for long-acting insulin.
If you take long-acting insulin, you will need a separate pen for that. The smart pen can remind you to take long-acting insulin as well.
To determine eligibility, you can fill out a form online or call your insurance company.
Helps With Calculations And Reduces Numeracy Errors
Research suggests that there is a math challenge when delivering insulin via standard insulin pens. People often make mistakes in calculating insulin doses and counting carbohydrates. This can affect blood sugar control. Smart insulin pens may take away these potential errors by doing the work for the person who has diabetes.
Research also suggests that when people with diabetes get assistance with insulin dose calculations, they see improvements in clinical outcomes , attitudes and behaviors, and satisfaction, and a decrease in glucose variability.
Smart insulin pens may reduce having to think as hard when giving yourself insulin.
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Technology To Record When You Last Used Your Insulin Pen
Did you take your lunch time injection? These great pen additions will tell you when you last used them:
Timesulin is compatible with numerous disposable pens onlyInsulcheck is compatible with numerous disposable or re-usable pens, and is compatible with Novo Nordisk insulins in Penfill ® cartidges
Smart pens are expected to launch in the UK soon. These will record not just when you last injected but also the actual dose you took, upload by Bluetooth to an app on your smartphone, and calculate how much insulin is still on board in the following hours. This will help you calculate whether or not correction doses are needed.
Different Types Of Insulin Pens
There are two different types of insulin pens:
- Disposable pens contain prefilled insulin supply. Depending on the type of insulin they use, disposable pens are designed to be thrown away either when theyre empty or when the pen has been used for 2832 days.
- With reusable pens, you can dispose of an insulin cartridge the container that holds the insulin once its empty and replace it with a new one.
Note that, with regard to dosage, certain pens measure in half-unit increments for each dose, while others measure in whole units.
Individuals who use insulin pens must also select pen tip needles, which screw onto the top of the pen and are changed with each injection. When choosing pen tip needles for your insulin pen, the American Diabetes Association recommends that you consider both length and gauge , noting that shorter needles are more effective for all body types, and that needles with a higher gauge are typically thinner and less painful.
Be sure to consult your healthcare professional if you need more information about why you have been prescribed a specific type of insulin or pen, or if you need more information about pen tip needle choices.
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Devices To Minimise The Pain Of Injections
Cold, pressure or vibration can distract the nerve endings and minimise any pain from injections.
Buzzy Taking the Sting out of Shots a little device for children or adults, to minimize the pain of injections, infusion set changes, finger stick tests and blood drawing.
TickleFLEX Insulin Injection Aid is an accessory for the end of your insulin pen that makes self-injecting a safer, more comfortable, more consistent and worry free process.
Why Might I Not Like Insulin Pens
Insulin pens are not right for 100% of diabetes patients. Insulin in pens and cartridges is generally more expensive than bottled insulin and syringes. When pens are used a small quantity of insulin is wasted, making the process less economical.
Not all types of insulin are available to be used in insulin pen cartridges at this stage. Furthermore, insulin pens do not let you mix two different types of insulin, meaning in some cases two separate injections will need to be administered.
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Lilly To Begin Rollout Of Tempo Personalized Diabetes Management Platform
Centralized experience supports diabetes self-management through medication reminders, education resources and insulin dose logging
Data shared through platform interface may help healthcare providers make data-driven decisions± about care for adults treated with select Lilly insulins
Offers compatibility with the Dexcom® Continuous Glucose Monitoring Systems, *, the Tempo Blood Glucose Monitor and other compatible BGMs, as well as wearable devices from Fitbit®, Garmin®, Google Fit® and the Apple Health app
INDIANAPOLIS, Nov. 7, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Eli Lilly and Company will begin rollout of its first connected platform, the Tempo® Personalized Diabetes Management Platform, later this year in the U.S. The technology aims to help adults living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes and clinicians make informed, data-backed decisions to manage treatment with Lilly insulins.±
The platform consists of three key components the Tempo Smart Button® a compatible app, TempoSmart and a prefilled insulin pen, Tempo Pen® which work together to deliver personalized guidance for adults with diabetes. The Smart Button was cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on September 16. The compatible app was developed in partnership with Welldoc® and is a private label iteration of the company’s BlueStar®, a diabetes management app, customized to receive insulin dose-related data from the Tempo Smart Button.
*Secondary display is available with 3-hour delay in the TempoSmart App.
Advantages Of An Insulin Pen Over A Syringe
Insulin pens are much smaller and more portable than syringes and also have the medicine preloaded into the delivery mechanism.
The needles are easy to use and can be disposable by twisting or snapping them on and off once you are done using them and need to dispose of them.
Some of the pens are disposable while others use an insulin cartridge system and need to be reloaded with a new cartridge after using them.
The pens are usually color-coded too which makes it easier to know which type of insulin and how much insulin you will be receiving from them.
Some pens are now smart insulin pens which easily connect to an app on your phone to allow you to monitor your blood sugar levels and remind you of when to take your next insulin dose.
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Insulin Pens For Diabetes
Managing diabetes often requires taking insulin shots throughout the day. Insulin delivery systems such as insulin pens can make giving insulin shots much easier. If you currently use a vial and syringe to deliver your insulin, switching to an insulin pen may make it easier manage your diabetes.
Insulin pens dont eliminate the need to poke yourself with a needle. They simply make measuring and delivering your insulin less complicated.
Insulin pens deliver anywhere from .5 to 80 units of insulin at a time. They can deliver insulin in increments of one-half unit, one unit, or two units. The maximum dose and the incremental amount vary among pens. The amount of total insulin units in the cartridges vary as well.
How To Store Your Insulin Pen
The ADA advises that new insulin pens be refrigerated, and that insulin that is currently in use be kept at room temperature. Its important to note that insulin kept at room temperature will last approximately one month, and that insulin should never be kept in areas exposed to extreme temperatures, such as in the freezer or in direct sunlight. A good general rule of thumb is to keep your insulin at temperatures that youd be comfortable in.
Additionally, insulin pens should not be stored with the needle attached, as this can affect the cleanliness and sterility of the needle, leaving you at risk of infection. Storing your insulin pen with the needle attached can also lead to insulin leaking out. Always be sure to check the expiration date on your insulin pen or cartridge prior to administration. When in doubt, refer to and follow the manufacturers instructions for storage.
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Why Are There Different Types Of Insulin Pens
Not all insulin pens are created equal. Because you are unique, your insulin needs are different than others. To meet these different needs, there are different types of insulin pens.
To start, there are different types of insulin. These are sorted by how quickly they work, the length of time at which they peak, and how long they continue to work:3
- Rapid-acting Works within 15 minutes and peaks within 1 hour. This type lasts between 2 to 4 hours.
- Short-acting Works within 30 minutes and peaks between 2 to 3 hours. This type lasts between 3 to 6 hours.
- Intermediate-acting Works within 1 to 2 hours and peaks between 4 to 12 hours. This type lasts around 12 to 18 hours.
- Long-acting Works within a few hours and lasts up to a full day.
- Ultra long-acting Works within 1 day and lasts for almost 2 days.
- Pre-mixed Usually is a mix of a rapid-acting insulin and an intermediate-acting insulin.
One new type of insulin pen is a fixed-ratio combination . This type of insulin pen delivers a combination of insulin and an insulin-enhancing drug in a single injection. The FRC combines a base insulin with a drug that helps improve the production of insulin within the body.4,5
This FRC has been shown to improve blood sugar levels among those with type 2 diabetes who require insulin therapy.4,5
How To Save On Insulin Pens
There are a few ways you can save on insulin pen costs:
- Many insulin pen brands offer coupons and special programs that can reduce your out-of-pocket cost, so be sure to visit their websites for more information. Here are a few programs from popular insulin pen brands to help you get started:
- Sanofi-Aventis Insulins Valyou Savings Program
For even more tips on how to reduce the cost of managing diabetes, we recommend reading our full article on the subject.
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How Are Doses Scheduled
Follow your doctor’s guidelines on when to take your insulin. The time span between your shot and meals may vary depending on the type you use.
In general, though, you should coordinate your injection with a meal. You want to time your shot so that the glucose from your food gets into your system at about the same time that the insulin starts to work. This will help your body use the glucose and avoid low blood sugar reactions. From the chart on page 1, the “onset” column shows when the insulin will begin to work in your body. You want that to happen at the same time you’re absorbing food. Good timing will help you avoid low blood sugar levels.
- Rapid acting insulins: About 15 minutes before mealtime
- Short-acting insulins: 30 to 60 minutes before a meal
- Intermediate-acting insulins: Up to 1 hour prior to a meal
- Pre-mixed insulins: Depending on the product, between 10 minutes or 30 to 45 minutes before mealtime
When Should I Use An Insulin Pen
To determine when you should inject insulin, pay attention to the times you check your blood sugar, when you eat and what kind of insulin you are taking:
- Check your blood sugar no more than 30 minutes before you eat.
- If you take rapid-acting insulin before meals, inject the insulin when you sit down to eat.
- If you take regular insulin before meals, inject the insulin no more than 30 minutes before the meal.
- If you take intermediate- or long-acting insulin, inject the insulin at the same time each day.
There is no standard or typical dose of insulin. Your dose will be the amount of insulin that you need in order to keep your blood sugar in good control. Your doctor will prescribe an insulin dose that is right for you.
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