How many insulins have you tried?  If you’re like most people, you only switch to something new when a better generation comes out, such as when Regular upgraded to Humalog or when NPH upgraded to Lantus. But when it comes to comparing insulin in the same family, say Humalog versus Novolog or Lantus versus Levemir, most of us only try something new when something goes very wrong, such as burning at the injection site. Yech…

But what really differentiates them anyway?  On the outside, there aren’t many distinct differences between Humalog, Novolog and Apidra. They are all rapid-acting insulin designed to enhance upon the classic Regular. They have a quick onset (between 10 and 15 minutes) and are generally are out of your system in a couple of hours. But if you ask an individual, “Which insulin do you use?” you’ll get a variety of answers and a variety of reasons.

When Apidra came to market in 2004, it claimed the title of speed champion.  While Humalog was fast, and Novolog was faster, Apidra was the fastest, according to manufacturer Sanofi-Aventis.  Actually, there is no scientific evidence that there are any major difference between the different brands of rapid-acting insulin.  “I have seen zero reliable research (ie, not conducted by an insulin company) showing any difference in action times,” says expert John Walsh, PA, CDE, and author of Pumping Insulin.  But many people — including many Apidra users like myself! —  still claim otherwise.

We surveyed the folks at TuDiabetes to get their impressions of how the different insulins have affected their blood sugar, and several people responded with interesting feedback about the new kid on the block, Apidra.

Linzie, a type 1, switched to Apidra when she went on her insulin pump. “Apidra works really quick compared to the Novolog I was taking,” she says, “and it seems to be out of my system faster.”

Heidi agrees, saying, “I use Apidra and have since I began pumping 9 months ago. Before going on the pump, I was on MDIs and using Humalog and Lantus for years. I think Apidra is most effective; it takes about as long as Humalog to begin working (~15-20min) but has a much shorter duration, so it brings down highs quickly and has a lesser risk of hypos. I haven’t experienced any side effects or a major change in bolus dosing.”

Melissa tried Apidra after her endo gave her some free samples. “She wanted feedback from patients currently pumping with Humalog,” Melissa says. “She thought its more rapid peak onset would be better for me because I had a tendency to bolus post-meal, which I eventually learned to stop doing!”

Others who responded indicated that they’d been on the same insulin for so long, they weren’t ever able to compare it with any older versions, or newer alternatives. Or, as Stacey expressed it: “I didn’t really ‘choose’ to use them, it was just what my endo prescribed.”

Which begs the question, if we’re so obsessed with finding the perfect insulin pump (and rightly so), shouldn’t we be at least as interested in what type of insulin goes into it and whether or not what we’re using is the best for us? As Bennett says, your diabetes may vary, so it’s a wonder why most of us are satisfied with whatever insulin our doctor handed over, often years earlier.

Have you test-driven any other insulins besides the one you’re using now? What were the results? Did you stick with the new type or go back? Inquiring minds would like to know…