Insulin Pen Switch

Insulin can be delivered in different ways. By switching away from pre-filled pens you can reduce the amount of plastic used and the carbon footprint of your medication. It might also be possible to save the NHS some money.

Pre-filled pens

These pens contain your insulin and once they run out have to be disposed of. Some can be recycled but they cannot be reused to deliver insulin.

Pens containing insulin made by Novo Nordisk can be dropped into Boots Pharmacies for recycling. They are not reused but instead made into other products like furniture. You can read more about this here.

You might be better suited to this option if you might struggle with the changing of the insulin vials used in re-usable pens which can be a bit fiddly.

Double or triple strength insulins (U200 or U300) only come in pre-filled pens to reduce the risk of giving the wrong dose.

How to change your device:

Re-usable pens

These pens do not contain any insulin.  Your prescription consists of 3ml glass penfills which you load into the pen. The pen itself can be used for many years. The pens are available in different colours so you can easily tell the difference between your insulins if you use more than one type. You use the same type of needles as you would for pre-filled pens.

By giving your insulin this way there is less packaging, less plastic waste and a reduced carbon footprint. They also take up less space in your fridge or your luggage if you are travelling.

When giving your first dose from a new vial you may need to give a much larger "air-shot" to ensure the device is primed.

If you are keen to switch between one of the above options then you should discuss this with your nurse at your next annual Diabetes review.

Prefilled Pen Shortage

There are issues with supply problems with some pre-filled pens.  You may have to switch to using a re-usable pen. The video bellow shows how to use a Novopen 5. The Novopen 6 which you may be issued is very similar just with the addition of Bluetooth compatibility.  It is really important to do an "air-shot" before each injection. This fills the needle with insulin and ensures insulin is flowing.  You may find you need to do a significantly larger "air-shot" when you first load a new cartridge.