Bailed out by a syringe

I have mentioned this before, but last night it worked out for me and solved a problem for me and saved me a bunch of trouble.

I was out for a dinner event, about 45 minutes away from my house. I had a pod failure (occlusion) while bolusing for the dinner.

I don’t take spare insulin or spare pods when I leave the house, I only take the PDM and some test strips (unless I am traveling overnight). But…I always have emergency syringes in the car.

So this failed pod problem was easy to work through. I removed the pod and used it like an insulin vial. Took a syringe, removed insulin from the pod and injected. Once for dinner, and another time an hour later for lost basal. Just having a syringe allowed me to stay at the dinner event and not have to drive home.

No matter what insulin delivery you use, even it is a pen, a syringe can bail you out.

Did you know - a pen that you can’t get any more insulin out of still has about 4 units of insulin that you can remove with a syringe!?!? And if the pen breaks, you can also use a syringe for that situation too.

Regardless of if you use a pen for MDI, or if you are using a pump, this is something that can be helpful to have.

Since syringes are easy to get (most states don’t require a prescription), and can be stored in your car almost indefinitely, I highly encourage everyone to put a few in there.


The Novopen 3 reusable leaves about 15u of insulin in the cartridge! I’ve created many full cartridges from this residue. Great advice @Eric !


Wow, that’s a bunch. I didn’t realize the Novo pens left so much. In the Humalog Luxura pens I’ve only been able to get 4-6 units before I start getting vacuum air-bubbles.

Good to know! Thanks Doc.


I get 15u+ out of spent Novolog cartridges, Basaglar pens, and Lantus pens before that with a syringe.

1 Like

Hey @Eric, do you know if syringes work with Animas cartridges? I tried to pull some insulin out of one the other day (wondering if a syringe would be useful for me to carry around) and it didn’t seem to work. I’m wondering if I’d be better off using the needle that came with the cartridge and squirting the remaining insulin into the syringe with the plunger removed. Seems a lot of work to get four units of insulin (especially when I don’t have to worry about the crazy prices Americans do), but may come in useful at some point in the future.

I have only seen the Animas pump from a demo with the company rep. And of course, we didn’t go over the technique of taking insulin out of it. :grinning:

But, it looks like you could get a syringe needle into the tip of the cartridge. Not the plunger side, but the side the insulin comes out of. If you were to remove the tip of it.

Or alternatively, what if instead of a regular syringe, you carried around a spare fill syringe? Could you reattach the fill syringe and use that?

I’ve used a syringe to get the last from pens when I was using them. Can’t STAND to waste insulin!


I just filled an entire pen cartridge from about 10 spent cartridges! The Novopen 3 wastes lots of insulin.


must say that i am happy that i use the NovoLog vials. i can always see exactly what is left in them, and i can suck them dry. yet, i do always carry needles with me wherever i go.

1 Like