A month or so ago, a friend of mine was talking about her insurance changing what their preferred insulin was. She mentioned using vials. I already knew that she used vials but something in the way she said it made me ask why? She is someone that uses small doses of insulin on a daily basis.
I know that some people prefer to use syringes because of being able to get smaller doses than you can with a pen. However, using a syringe is no excuse for continuing to use a vial because you can stick the syringe into the pen and dose just like you would with that vial. Some people also use the regular pen needles but pull out the remaining insulin with a syringe when the pens says it is empty but you can see insulin in there.
Pens are generally 3 ml and labeled 100 units per ml so you get 300 ml per pen. A vial is 10 ml and again 100 units per ml, so you get 1,000 units per vial. My pens normally last about 2 weeks, give or take a couple days. You also need to use some insulin for priming, Although the instructions say 2 units, I use 3 on my Apidra pens otherwise I have to prime a couple times.
On average, I use about 15 units of Apidra per day plus another 3 units to prime. If I have an average week, that 300 units should last me 16 ½ days. That 1000 unit vial on the other hand is a totally different story. The prescribing information for Apidra says that it needs to be used within 28 days. If you divide 1000 units by 28 days, that works out to 35.7 units per day – that is double what I normally use. Using 15 units a day for 28 days only works out to 420 units (I wouldn’t need the units I use to prime if I used a vial).
I know some people can get more days out of their insulin, but Apidra is a very picky insulin and I know based on past experience, I wouldn’t be able to do that. Out of curiosity, I looked up the life after opening for the most popular insulins. Most of them are 28 days and Levemir is 45.
Apidra 28 days
Humalog 28 days
Novolog 28 days
Lantus 28 days
Levemir 45 days
I know when I was on Lantus, I had to mark on my calendar when I opened a new vial because it would go bad and I have heard other people say the same thing.
If you are still using a vial instead of pens, I would do the math and see how many units you get per day out of that 1000 unit vial compared to five 300-unit pens. You might be surprised that you get more bang for your buck out of that box of pens.