Your Insulin Pen is NOT Empty

A few weeks ago, I discovered that I had been throwing away insulin. If you know me, that’s not something I would ever knowingly do. That’s not something anyone would do, especially with the high cost of insulin. But here’s what happened:

My Tresiba insulin pen said it had 0 units left in it; however, I decided to check if there was anything still left that I couldn’t see. At a certain point, the “piston” of the pen gets to its furthest point and cannot inject insulin anymore. It looks like this:

The orange/red bit at the end of the pen is what I am referring to as the “piston”. 

It was at this point that I pulled the insulin out of the pen with a syringe. 

*Here’s how I did it:

I inserted the syringe into the pen tip, careful not to hit any pieces of the inside of the pen as the “piston” is quite close to the end, pulled the insulin out (I didn’t inject air), and that’s it. It’s important to use the same volume syringe as the insulin pen (ex: U-100). 

It was really easy. And guess what? I extracted about 14 units of insulin! That’s way too much insulin to be throwing away each time.

What is your experience with extracting insulin from a pen?

*Please do this at your own discretion. I am not a medical professional and my writings should not constitute facts. Insulin pen manufacturers discourage this practice.

4 Comments

  1. When I discovered this, I stopped using the pen needles and started using syringes to draw the insulin out of the pen so that I get all of the insulin that I am paying for. I would go back to the vials, but the company doesn’t even provide basaglar in vials. As far as I am concerned the companies are further gouging the public by pushing these insulin pens.

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  2. I just tried this with my Lantus and Apidra pens. And guess what? Got between 10 and 14 units. Where my fast-acting is concerned, that’s enough for 1 more daily meal and 1 more snack. What a waste! 😦 Thanks for the tip.

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