The NovoPen® 1.5 uses Novolin® PenFill® insulin cartridges. The NovoPen 1.5 is also the first pen sold in the United States that can deliver insulin with one unit granularity, making it the first pen suitable for use by children with diabetes.
The NovoPen 1.5 is a substantial instrument. It is made from aluminum and plastic, and feels significantly more solid than Novo's PrefilledTM all-plastic pens. The NovoPen 1.5 measures 6 inches long (13 cm) and 5/8 inch (1.4 cm) in diameter. Loaded with insulin and a NovoFine® needle, the unit weighs 2 ounces (50 grams). It comes with a hard plastic case that holds the pen, three needles and one extra insulin cartridge. A soft case is also available.
The NovoPen 1.5 is simple to use. The unit unscrews easily to replace the insulin cartridge, which is available in R, N, 70/30 and 50/50. Each PenFill cartridge contains 150 units of insulin, so you'll be refilling the NovoPen more often than you would be replacing 1,000 unit vials of insulin.
Novo recommends replacing the NovoFine needle with each use, but you can easily reuse the needle for many injections. The NovoFine needle is the smallest needle you'll find at 30 gauge and 1/3 of an inch (8 mm) long. You will not find a more comfortable needle injection.
The insulin dosage is dialed in by turning the end of the unit. The dosage ranges from one to 40 units. Even units from two to 40 are marked, with odd units indicated by a line. Each time one unit is dialed in, you hear and feel a "click." If you accidentally dial in too many units, you must pull the back part of the pen away from the front part of the pen and, while maintaining the separation, dial back to the desired dosage. This is somewhat tricky and definitely takes two hands (three would be even better). If you let up on the separation, the pen will release insulin as you dial the dosage back. With only 150 units of insulin in each PenFill, you can't afford to be wasting insulin.
Loading insulin and attaching the needle is simple enough for grade-school aged kids. Dialing the dosage is also very easy. Reducing the dosage is not as easy, and is probably best reserved for older kids and adults. Injecting couldn't be easier. Simply grasp the pen firmly in your hand, thumb on the end. Insert the needle and push down on the release button on the end with your thumb. It is your pressing that injects the insulin. You'll hear a fast ratcheting sound as the insulin is injected.
The NovoPen 1.5 should be held in place for an extra second or two after you've pushed the release button all the way down, to ensure that all the insulin has been injected. Repeated tests with one unit of insulin showed that one unit consisted of three small drops of insulin. The third drop continued to form for several seconds after the release button was fully depressed. For kids who take one or two units of insulin at a time, you'll want to be sure that every bit of insulin is injected before removing the needle.
Children with diabetes often mix regular and NPH insulin in the same injection. This is not possible with the NovoPen 1.5. There are pre-mixed R/NPH Novolin PenFill insulins, but they come in premeasured mixtures of 70/30 (NPH/R) and 50/50 (NPH/R). Kids who decide to use the NovoPen 1.5 for all their injections should get two pens, using one for their regular insulin and one for NPH. Since the needles are so small, most kids won't mind the extra injection.
Many kids are adopting a three-shot-a-day regimen of UltraLente for basal insulin and pre-meal regular to cover carbohydrates. For kids using this regimen, using a NovoPen 1.5 at school for the pre-lunch regular or Humalog is highly recommended. The NovoPen 1.5 is simpler to use than a needle and insulin vial and it cuts down on waste (assuming you reuse the needle). When used for just pre-lunch injections, the needle should easily last a week (five injections).
Novo Nordisk Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
100 College Road West
Princeton, NJ 08540
Last Updated: Saturday August 31, 2002 07:59:40
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