What is Human Insulin? Benefits, Disadvantages, Is it Right for You?

Posted September 30, 2020 by Clint Kelly - See Editorial Guidelines

There are many different types of insulins available for patients with diabetes. Figuring out which one is right for you and which one is the most cost-effective can be difficult. With that being said, many will ask, what exactly is human insulin?

In this article, we will discuss this form of insulin, the benefits, disadvantages, uses, and costs. First, here is a quick answer to get us started.

What is Human Insulin? Human insulin was approved for pharmaceutical purposes in 1982. It is laboratory-made and mimics the insulin that is made by the pancreas. There are a few types of human insulins available, which include regular insulin, NPH (Neutral Protamine Hagedorn) insulin, and premixed human insulins.

Now that you have the brief explanation, let’s cover the details.

What is Human Insulin?

What is Human Insulin

Human insulin is a synthetic insulin that is manufactured in a lab to mimic the way insulin secreted by the pancreas works. Before human insulin was available, animal insulin was often used, which was typically a purified form of pork insulin.

This is an older form of insulin but can still be a viable option for those that cannot afford more recent insulin analogs. There has been some misinformation circulating about human insulin not being effective. However, it has been used for decades in patients battling diabetes and has been proven to help lower blood glucose levels.

It works the same way modern insulins work when it comes to lowering blood sugar levels. The difference is with the duration of the insulin and how quickly each starts to work.

This type of insulin is made by taking the DNA code for making human insulin and is placed in bacteria or yeast cells. Escherichia coli (E. Coli) is the most common bacteria used. The DNA is needed as it carries the instructions for how the body works and how insulin is made.

Brand Names of Human Insulin

There are a few different types of human insulins, and there are different brand names that fall under each type. Here is a list of the types and the brand names of each type.

  • Regular (short-acting) Insulin: Humulin R, Novolin R, Actrapid, Velosulin R
  • Neutral Protamine Hagedorn (NPH) Insulin: Humulin N, Novolin N, Gensulin N
  • Premixed Human Insulin: Novolin 70/30, Humulin M3 and M5
    • Premixed human insulin is a combination of regular and NPH insulin. Different ratios are available based on your specific needs.

Quickness and Duration of Human Insulin

When it comes to choosing the right insulin for you, you have to consider how quickly each type of insulin starts to work and how long they last in the system.

Regular human insulin starts to work within about 30-60 minutes after injection. They peak within 2-3 hours after injection and last up to 10 hours.

NPH insulin starts to work within 2-4 hours after injections. This type peaks between 4 and 10 hours and will last up to 18 hours.

Knowing the quickness and duration of the insulin you have been prescribed is crucial. This will help you determine when you should administer your dose and calculate your insulin on board.

Benefits

The benefits of human insulin are limited when compared to the more modern types of insulin. However, one great benefit is the financial savings it could bring over newer, more expensive insulin.

If you were to compare human insulin to animal insulin that was used before this type was created, then there are considerable benefits. However, the use of animal insulin is very rare and hardly prescribed at all. 

Disadvantages

Based on studies, human insulin does not appear to have the same effectiveness as some modern analog insulins. According to a Harvard Medical School study, patients using human insulin experienced a 0.14 percent increase in their HbA1c when compared to patients using analog insulin.

One of the most significant disadvantages of human insulin has to do with those with type 1 diabetes using it. Those with type 2 diabetes may be able to replace their analog insulin with this type with limited impact. However, a type 1 diabetic has to administer insulin multiple times a day for every meal and snack.

So, when it comes to human insulin, it takes longer to start working and to reach its peak. Therefore, a person with type 1 diabetes may experience high blood sugars, particularly after eating, if they are using this insulin.

What is Human Insulin

There has been some information circulating about human insulin causing more severe side effects compared to other insulin types. However, there is no proven evidence to back up claims such as this.

Costs

Patients that do not have insurance can expect to pay a retail price anywhere between $25 and $100 per vial of human insulin. Walmart has regular human insulin available for $25 called ReliOn.

Modern analog insulin is much more expensive when compared to this. The price you pay though will vary depending on the type of insurance you have.

You can get human insulin through Prescription Hope for just $50 a month.

Is Human Insulin Right for You?

Deciding what medicines you need to be taking must be done between you and your doctor. However, if you believe you are paying too much for analog insulin when you could be using a cheaper version, then talk to your doctor about human insulin.

It might be right for you if your blood sugar levels have been well controlled in the past. Those that have type 2 diabetes and are using insulin injections to control their condition may be able to use this type of insulin with success.

Those with type 1 diabetes may not have as much success. This is because individuals with this autoimmune disease will need insulin that works as soon as possible to control their postprandial glucose and long-acting insulin that last a full 24 hours. Otherwise, they may experience dramatic fluctuations in their blood sugar levels, which can be harmful.

Conclusion

We hope this has given you a better grasp of human insulin and whether or not it is right for you. For more information and questions regarding your specific treatment options, consult your doctor.

If you are struggling to afford your insulin or other prescription drugs, then contact Prescription Hope. We work directly with pharmaceutical manufacturers to provide patients with the medicine they need for a set, affordable cost. Enroll with us and start paying just $50 a month for your medication.



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