The GoodRx Prescription Savings Blog

The latest updates on prescription drugs and ways to save from the GoodRx medical team

Long Acting Insulin Pen Essentials

by The GoodRx Pharmacist on December 16, 2013 at 3:49 pm

There are several different medications on the market that can help you manage your diabetes, and insulin is an important part of that regimen, used to control type 1 diabetes, or type 2 diabetes that isn’t being adequately managed by oral drugs. There are a few types of insulins available, categorized by how quickly they take effect and how long they last. These include rapid-acting, regular- or short-acting, intermdiate-acting, and long-acting insulin.

What are the benefits of using long-acting insulin?

Long-acting insulin is slowly absorbed after injection over a period of 24 hours and mimics the body’s natural secretion of insulin. The long acting ability allows for slow and even absorption with no peak, which permits the convenient ONCE-DAILY dosing. Currently, there are two types of long acting insulin, Lantus and Levemir.

Both Lantus and Levemir are available in conventional vials as well as convenient prefilled disposable pens. The conventional method of drawing insulin up into a syringe is becoming less popular because it can be tedious and hard to do if you have dexterity or vision problems. In contrast, insulin pens are gaining popularity due to their convenience and ease of use.

Many insurance plans will only cover either Lantus or Levemir, but if you have a choice, there are a couple of things to weight about each option. Below is some information about the different pens that might help you make that decision, including manufacturer assistance, features, how to use the pens, storage information, and which pen needles to use.

 

Lantus SoloStar Pen

Lantus is the long-acting insulin option from Sanofi-Aventis. It’s available in the SoloStar pen, sold in boxes of 5, or in individual 10 ml vials.

The Basics:

• The manufacturer offers a guide and video on how to inject Lantus using the SoloStar Pen.

Lantus can be used in patients 6 years of age and older.

Lantus is considered pregnancy category C, which means that use during pregnancy isn’t recommended unless your doctor determines that the benefits outweigh the risks.

• It is the only 24 hour insulin approved exclusively for ONCE DAILY dosing.

• It helps control blood sugar for up to 24 hours with no pronounced peak.

• Dosing is in units.

• Pens last for 28 days once in-use.

• Cost: about $300+ for a box of 5 SoloStar pens. There are also manufacturer discounts available.
Lantus SoloStar Pen Features:

• The SoloStar pens can use ultrafine needles, which means less painful injections.

• The dosing window has large print for easier visibility.

• You can use the dial to increase or decrease your dose.

• There is a button at top of the pen that you push for an easy injection.

• The pens are disposable.

How should I store Lantus?
Not in-use (unopened):

• Store in the original carton in a refrigerator at 36ºF to 46ºF (2ºC to 8ºC).

Lantus can be refrigerated until the expiration date. Once that has passed it needs to be thrown out.

• If not stored in a refrigerator, it must be used or discarded within 28 days.

• Before using, remove the pen from the fridge for 1-2 hours (since cold insulin can be more painful to inject).

In-use (opened):

• Once in use DO NOT refrigerate—keep at room temperature.

Always throw away used pens after 28 dayseven if there is still insulin remaining.

Which pen needles do I use with Lantus?
Lantus is designed to be used with BD Ultra-Fine pen needles:

• BD original pen needle 29G 12.7mm

• BD mini pen needle 31G 5mm

• BD short pen needle 31G 8mm

• BD nano pen needles 32G 4mm

 

Levemir FlexPen

Levemir is the long-acting insulin option from Novo Nordisk. It’s available in the FlexPen, sold in boxes of 5, or in individual 10 ml vials. There is a new version coming soon as well: the Levemir FlexTouch Pen, which will have a dosing mechanism that ensures the push-button does not extend at any dose—this means the pen will be as easy to use for large doses as for small doses.

The Basics:

• The manufacturer offers a guide and video on how to inject Levemir using the FlexPen.

Levemir can be used in patients as young as 2 years old with type 1 diabetes. This is several years younger than the recommended age for Lantus (6 years old).

Levemir is considered pregnancy category B, which means studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus during pregnancy.

• It helps control blood sugar for up to 24 hours with no pronounced peak.

• It can be used once or twice daily.

• Dosing is in units.

• Pens last for 42 days once in-use.

• Cost: about $300+ for a box of 5 FlexPens. There are also manufacturer discounts available.
Levemir FlexPen Features:

• FlexPens are prefilled with 300 units of insulin.

• The pens have a large dosing window, which makes it easier to get an accurate dose adjustment.

• You can use the dial to increase or decrease your dose.

• There is a button at top of the pen that you push for an easy injection.

• The pens are disposable.

How should I store Levemir?
Not in-use (unopened):

• Keep your pens in the refrigerator, between 36° to 46°F (2° to 8°C).

In-use (opened):

• Once in use DO NOT refrigerate. Pens can be used for up to 42 days when kept at room temperature, below 86ºF.

• Your in-use pen be stored with the rest of your diabetes supplies—that means NO cooler needed for travel.

Always throw away used pens after 42 dayseven if there is still insulin remaining.

Which pen needles do I use with Levemir?
Levemir is designed to be used with Novofine pen needles:

Novofine 30G 8mm

Novofine Autocover 30G 8mm

Novofine 32G 6mm

Novotwist 30G 8mm (this is a NEW pen needle option)

 

Also, look for more information on different types of insulin, mixes, and new treatment options in upcoming posts!

The GoodRx Pharmacist


Copyright ©2015 GoodRx, Inc.

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. GoodRx is not offering advice, recommending or endorsing any specific prescription drug, pharmacy or other information on the site. GoodRx provides no warranty for any of the pricing data or other information. Please seek medical advice before starting, changing or terminating any medical treatment. Third party logos, trademarks, brand names and images contained on GoodRx.com are for demonstration purposes only and are owned by their respective rights holders, who are not affiliated with this Site.