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From Richmond, Virginia, USA:

Use of insulin injection "pens" in US is 1%, but 60% in Europe. Are pens any good?


As I understand, one of the reasons that insulin pens are more popular in Europe than in the United States is they are more available in Europe. Apparently the demand has been so great in Europe, the manufacturers have not been able to keep up with the demand to supply Europe.

I have found the pens to be most useful for people who take Regular or lispro insulin [Humalog®] before meals. With the pens, you have a self contained source of insulin and needle and don't have to carry around separate needles and syringes which are more bulky. Because you can't custom mix two insulins in the Pens, and cartridges for pens are not available containing Lente or Ultralente insulin, the pens are not that useful if you take mixtures of insulin together. I have suggested to teenagers who take a mixture of Regular or Humalog and another insulin before meals, that they might want to carry a pen containing the Regular or Humalog so if they are delayed coming home before supper and need to eat out they can take their fast acting insulin before supper and take the remaining intermediate or long-acting insulin when they come home if it is not too late.

I also find the pens are convenient to use for unplanned coverage of Regular or Humalog during the day.


Additional Comments from Dr. Robertson:

Around 80-90% of children and adolescents in the United Kingdom use insulin pens of one kind or another. They are convenient and easy to use - far easier to teach than syringes. We also, of course, have a full range of insulin mixtures, unlike the US.


[Editor's Comment: For more information about the insulin pen, see the reviews of the NovoPen 1.5 and B-D Pen. Also, see The Safety of Injecting Insulin Through Clothing from Diabetes Care, Volume 20 Number 3, March 1997. JSH]

Original posting 8 Jun 97


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