Insulin pen comparison

This thread is about different insulin pens.

For now I wanted to focus only on the rapid pens for bolusing. Basal insulin has much bigger considerations than just the pen features, but for rapids, a lot of the choice might come down to which pen you prefer.

Features like size, 1/2 unit dosing, the ability to refill the pen, if it is disposable, if it has a last dose reminder, etc., may make a difference for you.

The reason I want to post this is for the simple reason that the pen you use should not be only because it is the one your endo prescribes! It should be because it’s the one that has the best features for you.

I hope the newly diagnosed will be able to take a look at the features and choose the pen that makes the most sense for them.

For me, the most important features are 1/2 units, small, and refillable. That is why my favorite is the KwikPen Junior.

But please contribute and share what you know about bolus insulin pens, and why you think it is the best for you.


Relative size comparison:


Great topic, Eric.

I have two to contribute to your collection: a Novo pen 4 (6.2 in.) , and a Humapen Savvio (6.0in.) Both are 1 unit pens. Photos attached below. Edit: both pens inject a maximum of 60 units at a time.


Great post, @Eric!

May I suggest that the pens in the two pictures be displayed in the same order?


Yes, I will rearrange them when I have a few minutes.

I know nothing about pens so I apologize if this is a dumb question but are cartridges from different brands interchangeable? Like let’s say I wanted to use the NovoPen Echo because my top priorities were 1/2 unit dosing and last dose information, but my insurance prefers Humalog. Once I have the pen would it be possible to use humalog cartridges in it?

Is there any way to make the table into HTML?

With the images, this inforamtion a) isn’t accessable to people with visual impairments (for whom pens are really the only accessible insulin delivery option) and b) won’t show up in search results.

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Lily (Humalog) and Novo Nordisk (Novolog) use different pens, so the cartridges aren’t interchangeable. I can maybe show you a pic of what I mean a littler later. But, briefly stated: the cartridge for the Novo products (Levemir in my case) have threads for the needle on the cartridge, and the Humalog pen has threads on the pen. (edited)

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@Eric Great information! Thank you for taking the time and effort to produce this.

Just thought of one thing you overlooked. What is the maximum dosage each pen will give? I know some pens are limited to 30 units. But some people with insulin resistance take a bigger bolus than that. That could be a deciding factor in some cases.

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So I looked up manuals of Lily and Novo Nordisk pens because I honestly wasn’t properly comprehending your description here. But I think I get what you’re saying now, after comparing pictures. Novolog cartridges have the pen needle screw directly onto them, while in Lily pens the needle screws onto the “cartridge holder” of the pen rather than the cartridge itself.

Bummer! I was thinking the Echo would be the best pen for me (in preparation of my pump potentially dying), but not if my insurance will make me pay an arm and a leg for it

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No, those two will not fit.

There may be some other pens that are compatible, but Humalog and NovoLog pen cartridges are definitely NOT compatible.

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For things that are not being used all of the time, but only occasionally, they are not really too expensive to get them from a Canadian pharmacy!

For example, at Marks Marine Pharmacy in Canada, you can get 5 NovoLog cartridges for about $93 plus shipping.

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Please tell me what would make the descriptions better for the thread!

The descriptions up above weren’t what I had difficulty understanding at all, they were quite clear! I just got a little confused by @mike_g’s response to my own question about whether the cartridges were interchangeable. Now that I’ve taken a look at the pens myself his description does make sense, just having very limited experience with pens I got a little tripped up by the statement:

because I don’t have a very good concept on what the pieces of a “pen” are. Initially when I read it I was thinking maybe I could get around the issue by using the other brand’s pen needles but that is not the case :roll_eyes: Oh well! I guess I’ll just have to think about whether it would be better for me to try and get insulin from Canada or just religiously log insulin doses in an app if it came down to it

One of the things I mentioned on the original post is if something was refillable.

Suppose your insurance lets you get vials of either Humalog or NovoLog. If you have a refillable pen cartridge, you could refill the cartridge almost forever from vials of either insulin!

Yes, eventually the rubber stopper on the cartridge would wear out, and you would need a new one. But if you got 5 cartridges for about $100, that would last you practically forever.


Oh okay, very cool! That was definitely a needed clarification for me, I guess for whatever reason I thought “refillable” meant just you could just replace the cartridge in it and keep the pen. I don’t really know what my thought process was for the two pens that are “refillable” and don’t use cartridges but it makes more sense now haha

BTW, my original description had an error about which part was threaded, which I edited, sorry for the confusion.

Also, I tried to get a Humapen luxura HD from two Canadian pharmacies, and struck out so far… Each of them supplied a Savvio, as pictured above. Both gray in color. One arrived today, still in shrink wrap. I guess it’ll work for a backup.

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Well, refilling the cartridge and reusing it is not approved by anyone. :grinning: But…I do it.

So I tried to differentiate between “cartridges” and “refillable”.

Refilling a pen from a vial is a cheaper solution. So I wanted to try to distinguish pens that could allow that.


My thoughts exactly! When we are tight on budget, insurance lapses, coverage changes…etc. refillable pen cartridges using insulin vial is a good option. Furthermore, when the formularies are changed, you can still reuse your prefer cartridges like it has been stated elsewhere.


Has anyone used Fiasp? Is it available in a pen, vial or both? cartridge?

The half-unit dosing pens are typically only available at an endo’s office or diabetes clinic. I don’t know why this is, but they’re free and I even walked into a random clinic I am not a patient at once and they gave me a free Echo.