Insulin Pens

September 1, 2021

Insulin Pens

Insulin Delivery Pens come in compact designs, prefilled with Insulin. The color of the pens is different depending on the types of insulin. They allow accurate insulin delivery. Insulin pens are disposable, and a few models are reusable in which insulin cartridges can be loaded. Each pen comes holding 300 units of insulin.


How to use an Insulin Pen

  • Remove pen cover or cap.
  • Remove the paper tab from the needle and screw the needle onto the pen. The pen’s needle comes in different lengths (4 mm-12.7 mm) and different gauges or thicknesses ( ranging from 29 G to 32G). Usually 4-6 mm, gauge 32 needles are used for adults. Higher the gauge, the thinner the needle. Needles are disposable and come in a pack of 200 needles.
  • Insulin is either clear or cloudy depending on its type.  For cloudy insulin mix it gently by rolling in both palms and tipping up and down for a few seconds.
  • Before each shot prime the needle. Priming removes the air from the needle. Remove the inner needle cover. Tap the cartridge holder gently to move any bubbles to the top. Turn the dose selector knob at end of the pen to 2 units. Hold the pen pointing upwards and press the dose knob till it stops and drops of insulin can be seen coming out. The dial should be back at zero after pressing. Repeat the step if necessary so there are no air bubbles in the pen.
  • Now turn the dose knob to dial in the prescribed insulin dose. Double-check the dose window to ensure the proper dose.

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  • Select injection site. The abdomen is the preferred site. Always keep 1-2 inches away from the navel as around the naval there is a rich blood supply. Other sites are the upper thigh or upper arms absorption is more rapid from the abdomen than from the arm and slowest from the thigh. Choose a different Injection site (1 inch away from the previous site) in a circle on the abdomen each time to prevent lumps of fat (lipodystrophy) from forming at the repeated injection sites.
  • Clean the area with an alcohol swab. Gently pinch up the skin if you are thin to avoid injecting in muscles and push the needle in at a 90-degree angle. Longer needles should be injected with either a skinfold or at a 45-degree angle to avoid injecting into muscles.
  • Press the dose knob with your thumb all the way in (the dose window should go back to zero)
  • Leave the needle in the injection site for a few seconds and then pull it out to prevent insulin from leaking out. Lightly pat the area with tissue or cotton ball but do not rub the area.
  • Place the outer needle cover on the needle and unscrew it from the pen. Throw used needles away in a ‘sharps’ container with a lid for safe disposal (Do not put needles in an ordinary rubbish bin). Put the pen cover back on the pen. Keep the pen at room temperature and use it before the expiry date.
  • Store the unopened pen in a refrigerator at 2-8 degrees Celsius.

Advantages of using insulin pens

  • Easy to use particularly for young school-going children and elderly, and for patients with limited vision or manual dexterity. Patients with visual difficulty may listen to “clicks” of the pen to count the number of units.
  • Pens can be stored at room temperature for 28 days after opening. Insulin in vials has to be kept in the refrigerator at 2-8 degrees Celsius.
  • Some psychological benefits of ‘needle phobias’
  • Accurate dose delivery.
  • Time-saving and convenient to carry around.
  • Can be used discreetly in public places e.g. restaurants.
  • The memory feature shows when and how much of the last dose has been taken.


  • Not all types of insulin come in pens. Zinc insulin aggregates in pen cartridges.
  • It is not possible to mix two different types of insulin if needed.
  • Expensive. Price ranges around $72-250.
  • Some insulin is wasted each time while priming.

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