From the Journals

Expensive insulins, pen devices dominate U.S. diabetes care


Use of pen devices also increased

The proportion of treatment visits for insulin vials/syringes declined from 63.9% in 2016 to 41.1% in 2020, while visits for insulin pens rose from 36.1% to 58.7%.

“Many pens are more costly compared to vials of the same insulin product. Interestingly, some studies have found that use of insulin pens may promote greater patient adherence to insulin and, as a result, more broadly decrease health care costs associated with diabetes. However, we did not specifically investigate the cost of insulin in our study,” Dr. Kalyani noted.

The proportion of visits for “newer” insulins, defined as those approved in 2010 or later, rose from 18.1% in 2016 to 40.9% in 2020, while the concurrent drop for insulins approved prior to 2010 was from 81.9% to 59.1%.

“The findings of our study provide insight into potential drivers of insulin costs in the U.S. and may inform health policy,” the researchers conclude.

Funded in part by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Dr. Kalyani currently serves on the Endocrinologic and Metabolic Drugs Advisory Committee of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

A version of this article first appeared on


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