Actrapid® is a short-acting normal insulin preparation which is administered as an injection solution.

Trade names

  • Actrapid FlexPen®, 100 I. U. /ml injection solution in a ready-to-use pen, manufacturer: Novo Nordisk
  • Actrapid InnoLet® 100 I. E. /ml injection solution in a ready-to-use pen, manufacturer: Novo Nordisk
  • Actrapid Penfill®, 100 I. U. /ml injection solution in a cartridge, manufacturer: Novo Nordisk

Application areas

Actrapid® is used in the therapy of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus type 1 or type 2, either as a pure short insulin dose or as part of an intensified insulin therapy as part of a mixed insulin preparation. Due to the rapid onset of its effect, it is particularly suitable for short-term intervention in metabolic disorders and for the initial treatment of diabetics.

Method of application

Actrapid® is injected subcutaneously (under the skin) 30 minutes before meals. The skin on the abdominal wall, buttocks and front thigh is well suited for this. To prevent thickening of the skin in these areas, the injection site should be varied as much as possible. Actrapid® is administered either as an injection solution in vials, from which it is drawn up with insulin syringes before use, or as a finished pen (injection pen) on which the respective dosage is set. It can also be administered intravenously by medical personnel.

Application diagram

Diabetes mellitus is a disorder of the insulin balance in the body. A certain amount of insulin is needed so that the cells of the body can absorb sugar as an energy source. This regulation is normally taken over by the body.

However, in patients with diabetes mellitus it is disturbed or not present at all. Therefore, depending on the food consumed, the appropriate amount of insulin must be injected. In order to provide the right amount of insulin, there is a special scheme for each type of insulin, which indicates the required amount depending on the meals taken.

Actrapid is a short-acting insulin. It is injected at each meal depending on the blood sugar level and the amount of carbohydrates in the meal. It is administered 30 minutes before a meal so that the insulin is already present in the blood during the intake of the meal. In addition to short-acting insulin, long-acting insulin is usually injected once or twice a day. This is intended to cover the basic requirements of the day, regardless of the carbohydrates ingested.

The different Actrapid products

The Actrapid® FlexPen is a system that is used for injecting insulin. It consists of a syringe already filled with Actrapid®, the so-called FlexPen. All that is needed is a needle with which the Actrapid® can be injected under the skin.

By contracting a fold of skin before the needle of the Actrapid® Flexpen is inserted, it can be ensured that the active ingredient is not injected too deeply, i.e. right into the muscle. The suitable NovoFine® or NovoTwist® disposable needles should be used. The needles must be changed after each application and disposed of carefully.

The Actrapid® FlexPen contains 100 International Units of insulin per millilitre of content. The dosage of the Actrapid must always be adjusted to the individual needs of the patient and regular blood sugar checks should be carried out. If the Actrapid® in the FlexPen is used up, the FlexPen cannot be refilled.

A completely new FlexPen must be used. The advantage of the FlexPen is that no new cartridges need to be inserted. There are special disposable needles for the Actrapid® FlexPen.

As the name suggests, these are only used once and then carefully disposed of. The NovoFine® or NovoTwist® disposable needles are intended for the Actrapid® FlexPen. These are 8mm long.

This way they penetrate exactly under the skin without getting too deep into the muscle or fat tissue. The needle is first screwed onto the pen and both protective caps are removed. After injecting the Actrapid, the outer larger protective cap is put back on the needle.

Then the needle and protective cap are unscrewed together and disposed of. The main advantage of using the FlexPen needles only once is that they are very hygienic. Furthermore, the needles would blunt if used several times.

They would therefore be harder to pierce the skin. This would require greater pressure to be applied to the skin, causing it to become increasingly damaged. The principle of the Actrapid® InnoLet works like the Actrapid® FlexPen system.

This is also an insulin injection system consisting of a syringe already filled with Actrapid®, the pre-filled pen. The difference is that Actrapid® InnoLet delivers slightly fewer units than the Actrapid® FlexPen. The NovoFine® or NovoTwist® disposable needles are suitable as needles that are placed on the finished pen.

These should be changed after each application. In addition, a different puncture site should be chosen for each application of the Actrapid® InnoLet in order to keep the damage to the tissue as low as possible. The dosage of the Actrapid® always depends on the individual metabolism of the patient and should be discussed with the doctor.

When the contents of the Actrapid® InnoLet pre-filled pen are used up, the entire pen is disposed of. It cannot be refilled, but is replaced by a new finished pen. Before use, the Actrapid® InnoLet should be stored in the refrigerator.

Once it is ready for use, it can be stored at room temperature for up to six weeks. Actrapid® penfill is an insulin injection system in which the insulin is injected under the skin via a syringe, i.e. the pen. To do this, the pen is loaded with a cartridge filled with Actrapid®.

A suitable needle is then attached to the front of the pen, with which one can pierce the skin and inject the Actrapid®. One cartridge of the pen filling system usually contains 3ml Actrapid®, which corresponds to 300 International Units of Insulin. This should be dosed individually according to the needs of the patient.

If the cartridge is used up, it can be replaced by a new cartridge without the need for a completely new syringe each time. This is the biggest difference to other delivery systems. Empty cartridges must not be refilled.

In addition, separate injection systems must always be used when using different insulins. Even with this system, the needle should ideally be changed after each use of the penfill system. However, it is possible to use the needle several times.

The needle should always be fitted with the large outer protective cap and changed at least once a day. For the application of the Actrapid the appropriate accessories should be used. These are the NovoNordisk® insulin injection system and NovoFine® or NovoTwist® needles.