Diabetes Channel
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Diabetes Drugs

Short-Acting Insulin
Short-acting, regular (R) insulin (Humulin® R or Novolin® R):
  • Starts working in 30 minutes
  • Lowers blood glucose the most in two to five hours, on average
  • Finishes working in five to eight hours, in average.
Intermediate-Acting Insulin
Intermediate-acting, NPH (N) insulin (Humulin N or Novolin N):
  • Starts working in 1 to 3 hours
  • Lowers blood glucose the most in 6 to 12 hours
  • Finishes working in 16 to 24 hours.
Long-Acting Insulin
Currently, there are two long-acting insulins: insulin glargine (Lantus®) and insulin detemir (Levemir®). These medications:
  • Start working in 1 to 2 hours
  • Lower blood glucose evenly for up to 24 hours
  • Are taken once a day (for Lantus) or once or twice a day (for Levemir).
These insulins should not be mixed together in a syringe with any other form of insulin before use.
Premixed Insulin
Premixed insulin is two types of insulins mixed together in a specific proportion in one bottle or insulin pen. These products include:
  • Intermediate-acting plus short-acting insulin: NPH insulin/regular insulin (Humulin® 70/30, Novolin® 70/30).
The numbers following the brand name indicate the ratio of NPH and regular insulin.
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