Novorapid and Novolog – Rapid Acting Insulin Overview

Do you need rapid acting insulin? Novorapid (outside the United States) and Novolog (in the United States) are the brand names for Novodisk’s fast acting insulin product. The science behind these products is fascinating, even for a non-scientific person like me. While the benefits listed by the company are tremendous, there has been criticism about whether this product delivers on its promises. Let’s take a look.

What is an Insulin Analog?

fast lane signThe Novo medications (rapid and log) are actually insulin analogs. An insulin analog is synthetic (man-made) insulin that has been altered to achieve a certain performance. They can be made to increase the speed that insulin takes effect, like Novorapid. They can also be engineered to slow down the speed that insulin takes effect.

Insulin has a specific DNA made up of various amino acids, just like all human and animal cells. A specific amino acid is removed and replaced with an aspartic acid residue.

Thus, sometimes Novorapid and Novolog are called insulin apart. Novolog was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2000.

Characteristics and Delivery

On average, onset begins within 5-10 minutes, peak time is 45-90, and duration is 3-5 hours. Typically, it is taken in conjunction with longer acting insulin.

Novodisk has designed some unique insulin pens that allow for easy injection. These are called Novolog Flexpen and Novolog Pen Junior for kids. There are also insulin pump and traditional insulin injection options available as well.

Who Should Take These Medications?

The insulin has benefits for people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The drug is meant to have approximately five key benefits:

  • Improves post-prandial glucose control (Helps smooth out glucose levels after meals).
  • Allows you to eat within 5-10 minutes after an injection. (Normal insulin is about 30 minutes).
  • Flexible injection schedule, meaning you can alter your injections based on schedule changes or eating times.
  • May improve A1c levels over time.
  • May reduce risk of nighttime hypoglycemia.

What are the Drugs Risks?

If seriously considering this drug, you should consult your doctor and review the product literature to fully understand the risks involved. Some of the more common risks include:

  • May artificially lower blood sugar resulting in hypoglycemia (similar to all insulin)
  • May mask warning signs of hypoglycemia.
  • Allergic reactions
  • Exercise and sickness may cause blood sugar irregularities.

What are the Criticisms?

Insulin asparts such as Novolog have been criticized as being no different in action or effect than regular synthetic insulin. Some studies tend to support this criticism. As noted above, some criticize that the drug may reduce or eliminate warning signs of hypoglycemia. Also, when beginning or ending the treatment, it is necessary to pay close attention to the effect it has on your body as it adjusts.

Who is NovoDisk?

Novodisk is primarily engaged in producing diabetes related products. The company is actually a 1989 merger of Novo Industri SA and Nordisk Gentoffe A/S. These two companies trace their roots back to the early 1920’s. The company is headquartered in Denmark and employs over 27,000 people worldwide.

If you think NovoLog or NovoRapid is right for you, check with your doctor. After all, you need his or her prescription for the drug anyway!

New Medicines on the Market, Insulin Aspart, U.K. Drug Information Pharmaceuticals Group, May 2000.
By Erich Schultz – Last Reviewed September 2011.