Do Insulin Brands Really Matter?
For over 7 million Americans who rely on insulin to treat their diabetes, the medication is a necessity, regardless of price. The often-high cost of insulin makes it increasingly difficult for the rising number of patients dependent on this life-saving medication to maintain adequate supplies. In this article, we’ll break down the common types of insulin and share popular brand-name and generic options currently available on the market.
Insulin Types and Brand Options
There are five primary types of injectable insulin available, along with several other less common options. So, do brands really matter when it comes to insulin? The answer is complex. According to Healthline and the FDA regarding insulin, “Generic medications use the same active ingredients and work the same way… as brand-name medications.”1
Insulin is complicated and expensive to copy, however. And because of this, the price disparity between brand name and generic insulin options may not be as large as with other medications. As John Rowley of T1D International said, “They have to spend almost the same amount of money to produce a biosimilar as they would a novel drug.”2
While choosing the best type of insulin for your needs – whether it be a brand-name or generic option – you should always consult your doctor and/or pharmacist. Many of the brand-name insulin options below have available generics. Check America’s Pharmacy for generic insulin pricing and options.
Rapid-acting insulin onsets in 15 minutes or less. This type of insulin typically peaks in 30-90 minutes and lasts two to four hours. Common rapid-acting insulin brands include:
Sometimes called short-acting or regular-acting insulin, this type has an onset of 30-60 minutes, peaks in two to four hours, and can last for up to five to eight hours. Common short/regular-acting insulin brand includes:
Intermediate-acting insulin has an onset time of one to three hours, peaks within eight hours, and lasts for 12 to 16 hours. Common intermediate-acting insulin include:
This insulin type is designed to control blood sugar for long periods of time, even an entire day. The long-lasting effects of this type of insulin mimic the natural insulin produced by a healthy, functioning pancreas. Because long-acting insulin is typically taken once daily, it’s important to aim for injecting your insulin dose at roughly the same time each day to avoid what’s referred to as “stacking” your injections or taking them too closely together.3 Common long-acting insulin brands include:
Ultra long-acting Insulin
This less-common insulin type takes effect in six hours but does not peak. It lasts 36 hours or more. Common ultra-long-acting insulin brands are:
Another insulin option is essentially a combination of insulins that is already mixed with the correct dosages. This can be extremely helpful for patients who have poor eyesight or palsy issues. Common brands of pre-mixed insulin include:
An inhaled form of insulin hit the U.S. market in 2015. It’s rapid-acting but isn’t designed to be a substitute for long-acting insulin and should be used in conjunction with long-acting insulin. One common inhaled insulin brand is Afrezza.
Ways to Save on Insulin
Insulin is a life-saving medication and gives your body the energy it needs for daily activities. It’s not an option to go without, so learn how you can get creative when insulin gets expensive.
Save on insulin with America’s Pharmacy prescription coupons
America’s Pharmacy allows you to search for your prescription to get the best possible savings. The program is accepted at over 62,000 pharmacies, including most major drug store chains, big box stores, and independent pharmacies. You can also download the America’s Pharmacy app to find the nearest participating pharmacy and see how much you can save on medications. In other words, there’s no reason not to use it. After searching for your prescription, you’ll receive a card or coupon that can save you up to 80% on medication for your entire family (including pets!). All you have to do when getting your prescription filled is show the card to the pharmacist. It’s that easy. No hassle, no time lost-- only savings.
Seek help from your insulin manufacturer
Did you know that there are four insulin manufacturers who offer immediate assistance and long-term resources?5 If your manufacturer is one of the four below, you can call and speak to a customer service representative. They will explain all the options about how to reduce costs.
- Lilly Diabetes Solution Center
- Novo Nordisk NovoCare
- Sanofi Patient Savings Programs
- MannKind Support Programs
You can also visit the American Diabetes Association to learn more about these insulin help programs.
Consult your doctor
In situations where your economic circumstances are inhibiting your treatment, your doctor may be able to help. You should always consult your doctor before making any switches when it comes to your insulin type, dosage, or brand. At your next appointment, ask your doctor about the following CDC-recommended changes.6
- If you can switch to a generic, lower-priced, or insurance-friendly medication
- If you can take a combined pill that costs less (available for certain types of medication)
- If a higher dose of your medication is available, and if you can split the pills into the correct dose yourself to save money
- If there is an older, less expensive medication you can take rather than a newer, more expensive medication
Save on Diabetes Medications
Diabetes medication costs continue to rise, but there are financial resources to help you fight this disease. America’s Pharmacy works on your behalf to lower the prices on life-saving medications. Find free diabetes medication coupons, download the prescription savings app, or get a prescription discount card to start saving today.