I’ve been reviewing my insulin history over the last 26 years and it appears that while I’m able to sustain a reasonably long relationship with an insulin brand, I have been a bit of an insulin tart over the years swapping to the latest thing when it’s caught my eye.
When I was diagnosed, back in the dark ages, Eli Lilly were the big thing in insulin. They’d just brought out this new stuff called human insulin. In the dark ages most people used animal insulin, produced by boiling up dead cows and pigs, running the resultant broth through an insulin extraction machine then bottling it. (Here, I must admit that the finer details of this description may be a little inaccurate and I acknowledge the process was probably a little more refined than this, likely using microscopes and stuff.)
Anyway, human insulin was the next big thing and my consultant was very excited that Lilly’s Soluble and Isophane human insulins were on his prescription pad. At the time they seemed fine, they kept me alive which was better than my own body could manage so they were a good thing. Looking back, they were pretty crude. The long acting liked to peak and fall like a rollercoaster and the short acting needed to be injected six weeks in advance of you thinking about eating.
It was the best we could find though, so we stuck with it. My promiscuity started early when aged 9 I jumped ship and moved to NovoNordisk. They’d brought out a marvellous new invention – the NovoPen. Instead of using a syringe twice a day, you could now use a super sexy metal pen to inject with four times a day – it came with Actrapid, a faster, shorter acting insulin you injected just 2 weeks before your anticipated meal. This was intergalactic type progress!
Actrapid’s long acting partner was Ultratard, still with plenty of ups and downs but it also had the additional quirk of only lasting about 18 hours when you actually needed it for 24. Nice.
About 10 years ago the world really changed. A new thing called insulin glargine arrived. And being the insulin tart that I am, I went for it. Sanofi-Aventis became my new best friends with their 24 hour lasting, flat as a pancake Lantus. Marvellous stuff, so much better than that nasty Ultratard although personally the no peaks/no dips thing didn’t really work for me, I found it liked to rocket about 6 hours after I’d injected it, but perhaps that was just me.
The best thing was still to come though. A properly fast acting insulin. Despite my long term relationships with other drug companies, it seems I still held a torch for my first love, Lilly. That smouldering torch was ignited again when they brought out Humalog. You could inject and then eat pretty much straight away (well 20-30 mins but who’s counting?). And it didn’t last for hours on end causing hypos 5 hours after meals like some of it’s predecessors.
I’ve used Humalog for at least 6 years now and we get on just fine. But am I being complacent in this relationship, have I just got all comfy with Humalog and taken myself off the insulin dating scene because we’re lazily snuggled up on the sofa together? There’s plenty more fish in the sea, should I be setting up a date with the slightly newer Apidra or NovoRapid/Novolog? They claim to work a little bit faster and possibly for a shorter duration, but is it enough to be worth the hassle of getting to know a new insulin?
At the moment I think I’m settled in front of the fire in my slippers with my Humalog, not because it’s earth-shatteringly fabulous, but because it’s doing what I need it to do.
Are there any Apridra/NovoRapid/Novolog lovers out there who can convince me it’s worth getting back on the dating scene?