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A Review of Insulin Pen Devices

Emily K. McCoy, PharmD and Bradley M. Wright, PharmD, BCPS

Abstract: Optimization of glycemic control is a fundamental aspect of diabetes management, and rates of diabetes-related microvascular complications are significantly decreased when glycemic control is improved. Currently, > 5 million Americans require insulin therapy to manage their diabetes, and this number is expected to multiply as the prevalence of type 2 diabetes increases secondary to several factors.

The distinct pharmacodynamic properties of each insulin product help physicians decide which type of insulin is the most appropriate for each patient. The method of delivery that will ensure both patient and provider satisfaction must also be carefully considered. Insulin pen devices are designed to provide a convenient and easy means of insulin administration for the patient and can be divided into 2 categories: the reusable, durable pen, and the disposable, prefilled pen. These insulin pen devices are an alternative to the traditional insulin vial-and-syringe method and offer many advantages. Insulin pens have also been found to be less painful than the vial-and-syringe method and are often associated with greater patient preference and social acceptability. As a result, this method of insulin delivery may ultimately help to improve glycemic control and should be considered when prescribing insulin products.

Conclusion

Although diabetes is a controllable disease, its prevalence continues to increase in the United States. As insulin therapy remains a mainstay in the treatment of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, careful consideration of the method of delivery is important to ensure patient and provider satisfaction. Insulin pen devices offer an alternative to the traditional insulin vial-and-syringe method, which is still used more often in the United States than in both Canada and Europe. Studies have shown that insulin administration by means of an insulin pen is easier and more convenient; the use of insulin pens has also been found to be less painful than the vial-and-syringe method and is often associated with greater patient preference and social acceptability. Moreover, insulin pens have shown an increase in medication adherence. By overcoming such barriers to insulin administration, pen devices may ultimately aid in improving glycemic control. Although the pen device has potential disadvantages, the authors feel that its advantages outweigh any disadvantages. Insulin pens offer an alternative method to the traditional vial-and-syringe method of insulin delivery and should be considered when initiating insulin therapy.

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