19 September 2007

Pen mightier than syringe

For patients with type 2 diabetes who need to start insulin injections, using a pre-loaded insulin pen could save money overall, according to results of a new study.

For patients with type 2 diabetes who have reached the point where they need to start insulin injections, using a pre-loaded insulin pen could save money overall, according to results of a new study.

People who use the insulin pen rather than traditional vials and syringes make fewer visits to the doctor or hospital, and the reduced use of health care resources translates directly into cost savings, the study's authors say.

A pen device is easier to use, provides greater dose accuracy, and is more satisfactory to patients, compared with a syringe, Dr Rajesh Balkrishnan and associates note in their paper in the journal Clinical Therapeutics.

Total costs are less,br> To compare costs related to initiating use of insulin pens (NovoPen or FlexPen) or syringes, Balkrishnan, at Ohio State University in Columbus, and his colleagues studied information in the North Carolina Medicaid program patient-claims database on patients with type 2 diabetes that enrolled between 2001 and 2006.

Their comparison included 1 162 patients who began insulin therapy with a syringe, and 168 who began therapy with an insulin pen.

The team found that the total annual health care costs, excluding prescriptions, averaged roughly $14,900 per patient in the pen group and $32,000 for the syringe users.

Even though the initial cost of an insulin pen is greater than that for syringes, the overall cost benefits of using pens outweigh those for syringe use, Balkrishnan's team concludes. - (Reuters Health)

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