Rapid-Acting Insulin

What is rapid-acting insulin?

Rapid-Acting insulins are insulin analogs that were developed to help imitate meal-induced insulin secretion. Many type 2 diabetes patients will eventually require bolus mealtime insulin to help achieve blood glucose control. Bolus mealtime insulin works quickly to lower the increase in blood sugar after eating. It does this by stimulating the cells in the body to absorb glucose from the bloodstream. They have a quick onset of action (15-20 minutes) and short duration of action (2-4 hours).* Rapid-acting insulin analogs are often used over regular insulin because of their quick onset, which allows patients to inject it closer to mealtime and because of their short duration, which decreases the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

Some of the rapid-acting insulins available in the US include:

What is Apidra (insulin glulisine)?

Apidra (insulin glulisine) is a rapid-acting insulin analog used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.Apidra is given as a subcutaneous (under the skin) injection within 15 minutes before or within 20 minutes after starting a meal, but always consult with your healthcare provider on proper use.  It can be injected in the abdomen, thigh, or shoulder. Injection sites should be rotated each time to prevent the risk of lipodystrophy, an accumulation of fatty tissue under the skin at the site where insulin  is injected. Your healthcare provider will help determine your proper dose based on each individual’s specific needs and lifestyle. Apidra’s onset of action is 25 minutes and its effect lasts about 4-5 hours. Apidra can also be used in an insulin pump.1

People who are allergic to any of the ingredients in Apidra (insulin glulisine) should not take it. Always check with your healthcare professional about any potential drug interactions before starting treatment.    

Apidra is available in a vial containing 100units/ml and in a pre-filled pen (Apidra Solostar) containing 100units/ml. Unopened vials and pens should be kept in the refrigerator. Opened vials are good for 28 days at room temperature or refrigerated. Opened pens are good for 28 days at room temperature, they should not be refrigerated after opening.1   

Some of the most common side effects from Apidra include:

Some side effects, like anaphylaxis, hypersensitivity reactions, or seizures can be severe and even life threatening. Consult your healthcare provider on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of these side effects and let them know if you experience any side effects after using Apidra or any other medication.  

What is Humalog (insulin lispro)?

Humalog (insulin lispro) is a rapid-acting insulin analog used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Humalog is given as a subcutaneous (under the skin) injection within 15 minutes before or immediately after meals.  It can be injected in the abdomen, thigh, upper arm, or buttocks. Injection sites should be rotated each time to prevent the risk of lipodystrophy, an accumulation of fatty tissue under the skin at the site where  insulin  is injected. Your healthcare provider will help determine your proper dose based on your specific needs and lifestyle, be sure to consult with them on proper use. Humalog’s onset of action is 15 to 30 minutes and its effect lasts about 3-6 hours.* Humalog can also be used in an insulin pump.

People who are allergic to any of the ingredients in Humalog (insulin lispro) should not use it. Always check with your healthcare professional about any potential drug interactions before starting treatment.    

Humalog is available in a vial or cartridge containing 100units/ml and in a pre-filled pen (Humalog KwikPen) containing 100units/ml or 200units/ml.  Unopened vials, cartridges and pens should be kept in the refrigerator. Opened vials, cartridges and pens are good for 28 days at room temperature and should not be refrigerated.

Some of the most common side effects from Humalog include:

  • Hypoglycemia
  • Injection site reactions

Some side effects from Humalog, like anaphylaxis, hypersensitivity reactions, ketoacidosis, or hypoglycemia can be severe and even life threatening.  Consult your healthcare provider on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of these side effects and let them know if you experience any side effects after using Humalog or any other medication.  

What is Novolog (insulin aspart)?

Novolog (insulin aspart) is a rapid-acting insulin analog used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes for bolus injections to control meal time glucose increases. Novolog is given as a subcutaneous (under the skin) injection usually given 5 to 10 minutes before meals, but always consult with your healthcare provider on proper use. It can be injected in the abdomen, thigh, upper arm, or buttocks. Injection sites should be rotated each time to prevent the risk of lipodystrophy, an accumulation of fatty tissue under the skin at the site where insulin  is injected. Your healthcare provider will help determine your proper dose based on your specific needs and lifestyle. Novolog has an onset of action in 10 to 20 minutes and its effect lasts about 3-5 hours.* Novolog can also be used in an insulin pump.

People who are allergic to any of the ingredients in Novolog (insulin aspart) should not use it. Always check with your healthcare professional about any potential drug interactions before starting treatment.    

Novolog is available in a vial containing 100units/ml, a cartridge (Novolog Penfill) containing 100units/ml and in a pre-filled pen (Novolog Flexpen) containing 100units/ml.  Unopened vials, cartridges and pens should be kept in the refrigerator.  Opened vials, cartridges and pens are good for 28 days at room temperature.  Opened vials may be refrigerated. Opened cartridges and pens should not be refrigerated. 

Some of the most common side effects from Novolog include:

Some side effects, like anaphylaxis, hypersensitivity reactions, or hypoglycemia can be severe and even life threatening.  Consult your healthcare provider on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of these side effects and let them know if you experience any side effects after using Novolog or any other medication.  

What is Afrezza (insulin human inhaled)?

Afrezza (human insulin inhaled) is a rapid-acting insulin that can be used for certain patients with type 2 diabetes to help control blood sugar increases from meals. Afrezza is breathed in through the mouth with an inhaler at the beginning of a meal. Follow the instructions given by your healthcare provider on proper use and dosage of Afrezza. Afrezza will start working in 12 to 15 minutes and can last for up to 3 hours.

People should not use Afrezza if they are allergic to Afrezza or any of the ingredients in Afrezza or have chronic lung problems. It is not recommended for use in people who smoke or who have recently stopped smoking.  Before starting Afrezza and during your treatment your healthcare provider will check your lung function. Always check with your healthcare professional about any potential drug interactions or precautions before starting treatment.   

Afrezza is available in 4-unit, 8-unit, or 12-unit cartridges to be used in the inhaler. Check with your healthcare provider on specific storage instructions.

Some of the most common side effects of Afrezza include:

  • Hypoglycemia
  • Cough

Some side effects are serious and may be life threatening including; hypoglycemia, decreased lung function, lung cancer, diabetic ketoacidosis, or low potassium. Consult your healthcare provider on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of these side effects and let them know if you experience any side effects after using Afrezza or any other medication. 

What is Fiasp (insulin aspart)?

Fiasp (insulin aspart) is a rapid-acting insulin analog used in the treatment of type 2 and type 1 diabetes. Fiasp is given as a subcutaneous (under the skin) injection usually at the beginning of a meal or within 20 minutes after starting a meal, but always consult with your healthcare provider on proper use. It can be injected in the abdomen, upper arm or thigh. Injection sites should be rotated each time to prevent the risk of lipodystrophy, an accumulation of fatty tissue under the skin at the site where insulin is injected. Your healthcare provider will help determine your proper dose based on your specific needs and lifestyle. Fiasp has an onset of action in 16 to 20 minutes and its effect lasts about 5-7 hours.*

People who are allergic to any of the ingredients in Fiasp (insulin aspart) should not use it. Always check with your healthcare professional about any potential drug interactions before starting treatment.    

Fiasp (100units/ml) comes in a 3ml pre-filled pen (FlexTouch) and a 10ml vial. Unopened vials and pens can be stored at room temperature for 28 days and in the refrigerator until the expiration date. Opened vials and pens can be stored at room temperature and in the refrigerator for 28 days.

Some of the most common side effects from Fiasp include:

  • Injection site reactions
  • Weight gain

Some side effects, like low potassium (hypokalemia), serious allergic reactions, heart failure or hypoglycemia can be severe and even life threatening. Consult your healthcare provider on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of these side effects and let them know if you experience any side effects after using Fiasp or any other medication.  

*The times listed for onset, peak and duration of action are the usual values, however these values can be highly variable for each patient.

Written by: Bridget Barvian | Last reviewed: November 2017
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