Actrapid FlexPen is indicated for treatment of diabetes mellitus.
The potency of human insulin is expressed in international units.
Actrapid FlexPen dosing is individual and determined in accordance with the needs of the patient. It can be used alone or in combination with intermediate-acting or long-acting insulin before a meal or a snack.
The individual insulin requirement is usually between 0.3 and 1.0 international unit/kg/day.
Adjustment of dose may be necessary if patients undertake increased physical activity, change their usual diet or during concomitant illness.
Elderly (> 65 years old)
Actrapid FlexPen can be used in elderly patients.
In elderly patients, glucose monitoring should be intensified and the insulin dose adjusted on an individual basis.
Renal and hepatic impairment
Renal or hepatic impairment may reduce the patient's insulin requirements.
In patients with renal or hepatic impairment, glucose monitoring should be intensified and the human insulin dose adjusted on an individual basis.
Actrapid FlexPen can be used in children and adolescents.
Transfer from other insulin medicinal products
When transferring from other insulin medicinal products, adjustment of the Actrapid FlexPen dose and the dose of the basal insulin may be necessary.
Close glucose monitoring is recommended during the transfer and in the initial weeks thereafter.
Method of administration
Actrapid FlexPen is a fast-acting human insulin and may be used in combination with intermediate or long-acting insulin medicinal products.
Actrapid FlexPen is administered subcutaneously by injection in the abdominal wall, the thigh, the gluteal region or the deltoid region. Injection into a lifted skin fold minimises the risk of unintended intramuscular injection.
The needle should be kept under the skin for at least 6 seconds to make sure the entire dose is injected. Injection sites should always be rotated within the same region in order to reduce the risk of lipodystrophy. Subcutaneous injection into the abdominal wall ensures a faster absorption than other injection sites. The duration of action will vary according to the dose, injection site, blood flow, temperature and level of physical activity.
An injection should be followed within 30 minutes by a meal or snack containing carbohydrates.
Due to the risk of precipitation in pump catheters, Actrapid FlexPen should not be used in insulin pumps for continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion.
If necessary, Actrapid FlexPen can be administered intravenously. This should be carried out by healthcare professionals.
For intravenous use, infusion systems with Actrapid FlexPen at concentrations from 0.05 international unit/ml to 1.0 international unit/ml human insulin in the infusion fluids 0.9% sodium chloride, 5% dextrose and 10% dextrose with 40 mmol/l potassium chloride using polypropylene infusion bags, are stable at room temperature for 24 hours. Although stable over time, a certain amount of insulin will initially be adsorbed to the material of the infusion bag. Monitoring of blood glucose is necessary during the insulin infusion.
For detailed user instructions, please refer to the package leaflet.
Administration with a syringe
Actrapid FlexPen vials are for use with insulin syringes with a corresponding unit scale. When two types of insulin are mixed always mix the insulin medicinal products in the same sequence.
Before travelling between different time zones, the patient should seek the doctor's advice since this may mean that the patient has to take the insulin and meals at different times.
Inadequate dosing or discontinuation of treatment, especially in type 1 diabetes, may lead to hyperglycaemia and diabetic ketoacidosis. Usually, the first symptoms of hyperglycaemia develop gradually over a period of hours or days. They include thirst, increased frequency of urination, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, flushed dry skin, dry mouth, loss of appetite as well as acetone odour of breath. In type 1 diabetes, untreated hyperglycaemic events eventually lead to diabetic ketoacidosis, which is potentially lethal.
Omission of a meal or unplanned strenuous physical exercise may lead to hypoglycaemia.
Hypoglycaemia may occur if the insulin dose is too high in relation to the insulin requirement. In case of hypoglycaemia or if hypoglycaemia is suspected, Actrapid FlexPen must not be injected. After stabilisation of the patient's blood glucose, adjustment of the dose should be considered.
Patients whose blood glucose control is greatly improved, e.g. by intensified insulin therapy, may experience a change in their usual warning symptoms of hypoglycaemia and should be advised accordingly. Usual warning symptoms may disappear in patients with longstanding diabetes.
Concomitant illness, especially infections and feverish conditions, usually increases the patient's insulin requirement. Concomitant diseases in the kidney, liver or affecting the adrenal, pituitary or thyroid gland can require changes in the insulin dose.
When patients are transferred between different types of insulin medicinal products, the early warning symptoms of hypoglycaemia may change or become less pronounced than those experienced with their previous insulin.
Transfer from other insulin medicinal products
Transferring a patient to another type or brand of insulin should be done under strict medical supervision. Changes in strength, brand (manufacturer), type, origin (animal insulin, human insulin or insulin analogue) and/or method of manufacture (recombinant DNA versus animal source insulin) may result in a need for a change in dose. Patients transferred to Actrapid FlexPen from another type of insulin may require an increased number of daily injections or a change in dose from that used with their usual insulin medicinal products. If an adjustment is needed, it may occur with the first dose or during the first few weeks or months.
Injection site reactions
As with any insulin therapy, injection site reactions may occur and include pain, redness, hives, inflammation, bruising, swelling and itching. Continuous rotation of the injection site within a given area reduces the risk of developing these reactions. Reactions usually resolve in a few days to a few weeks. On rare occasions, injection site reactions may require discontinuation of Actrapid FlexPen.
Combination of Actrapid FlexPen with pioglitazone
Cases of cardiac failure have been reported when pioglitazone was used in combination with insulin, especially in patients with risk factors for development of cardiac heart failure. This should be kept in mind if treatment with the combination of pioglitazone and Actrapid FlexPen is considered. If the combination is used, patients should be observed for signs and symptoms of heart failure, weight gain and oedema. Pioglitazone should be discontinued if any deterioration in cardiac symptoms occurs.
The patient's ability to concentrate and react may be impaired as a result of hypoglycaemia. This may constitute a risk in situations where these abilities are of special importance (e.g. driving a car or operating machinery).
Patients should be advised to take precautions to avoid hypoglycaemia while driving. This is particularly important in those who have reduced or absent awareness of the warning signs of hypoglycaemia or have frequent episodes of hypoglycaemia. The advisability of driving should be considered in these circumstances.
Summary of the safety profile
The most frequently reported adverse reaction during treatment is hypoglycaemia. The frequencies of hypoglycaemia vary with patient population, dose regimens and level of glycaemic control, please see Description of selected adverse reactions below.
At the beginning of the insulin treatment, refraction anomalies, oedema and injection site reactions (pain, redness, hives, inflammation, bruising, swelling and itching at the injection site) may occur. These reactions are usually of a transitory nature. Fast improvement in blood glucose control may be associated with acute painful neuropathy, which is usually reversible. Intensification of insulin therapy with abrupt improvement in glycaemic control may be associated with temporary worsening of diabetic retinopathy, while long-term improved glycaemic control decreases the risk of progression of diabetic retinopathy.
Tabulated list of adverse reactions
The adverse reactions listed below are based on clinical trial data and classified according to MedDRA frequency and System Organ Class. Frequency categories are defined according to the following convention: Very common (> 1/10); common (> 1/100 to < 1/10); uncommon (> 1/1,000 to < 1/100); rare (> 1/10,000 to < 1/1,000); very rare (< 1/10,000); not known (cannot be estimated from the available data).
Immune system disorders
Uncommon - Urticaria, rash
Very rare - Anaphylactic reactions*
Metabolism and nutrition disorders
Very common - Hypoglycaemia*
Nervous system disorders
Uncommon - Peripheral neuropathy (painful neuropathy)
Uncommon - Refraction disorders
Very rare - Diabetic retinopathy
Skin and subcutaneous tissue disorders
Uncommon - Lipodystrophy*
General disorders and administration site conditions
Uncommon - Injection site reactions
Uncommon - Oedema
* see Description of selected adverse reactions
Description of selected adverse reactions
The occurrence of generalised hypersensitivity reactions (including generalised skin rash, itching, sweating, gastrointestinal upset, angioneurotic oedema, difficulty in breathing, palpitation and reduction in blood pressure) is very rare but can potentially be life threatening.
The most frequently reported adverse reaction is hypoglycaemia. It may occur if the insulin dose is too high in relation to the insulin requirement. Severe hypoglycaemia may lead to unconsciousness and/or convulsions and may result in temporary or permanent impairment of brain function or even death. The symptoms of hypoglycaemia usually occur suddenly. They may include cold sweats, cool pale skin, fatigue, nervousness or tremor, anxiousness, unusual tiredness or weakness, confusion, difficulty in concentrating, drowsiness, excessive hunger, vision changes, headache, nausea and palpitation.
In clinical trials, the frequency of hypoglycaemia varied with patient population, dose regimens and level of glycaemic control.
Lipodystrophy (including lipohypertrophy, lipoatrophy) may occur at the injection site. Continuous rotation of the injection site within the particular injection area reduces the risk of developing these reactions.
Based on post-marketing sources and clinical trials, the frequency, type and severity of adverse reactions observed in the paediatric population do not indicate any differences to the broader experience in the general population.
Other special populations
Based on post-marketing sources and clinical trials, the frequency, type and severity of adverse reactions observed in elderly patients and in patients with renal or hepatic impairment do not indicate any differences to the broader experience in the general population.
Reporting of suspected adverse reactions
Reporting suspected adverse reactions after authorisation of the medicinal product is important. It allows continued monitoring of the benefit/risk balance of the medicinal product. Healthcare professionals are asked to report any suspected adverse reactions via
Yellow Card Scheme
Website: www.mhra.gov.uk/yellowcard or search for MHRA Yellow Card in the Google Play or Apple App Store
IRL - Dublin 2
Tel: +353 1 6764971
Fax: +353 1 6762517
A specific overdose of insulin cannot be defined, however, hypoglycaemia may develop over sequential stages if too high a dose relative to the patient's requirement is administered:
- Mild hypoglycaemic episodes can be treated by oral administration of glucose or sugary products. It is therefore recommended that the diabetic patient always carries sugar-containing products.
- Severe hypoglycaemic episodes, where the patient has become unconscious, can be treated with glucagon (0.5 to 1 mg) given intramuscularly or subcutaneously by a trained person, or with glucose given intravenously by a healthcare professional. Glucose must be given intravenously, if the patient does not respond to glucagon within 10 to 15 minutes.
Upon regaining consciousness, administration of oral carbohydrates is recommended for the patient in order to prevent a relapse.
Pharmacotherapeutic group: Drugs used in diabetes. Insulins and analogues for injection, fast-acting, insulin (human). ATC code: A10AB01.
Mechanism of action and pharmacodynamic effects
The blood glucose lowering effect of insulin is due to the facilitated uptake of glucose following binding of insulin to receptors on muscle and fat cells and to the simultaneous inhibition of glucose output from the liver.
A clinical trial in a single intensive care unit treating hyperglycaemia (blood glucose above 10 mmol/l) in 204 diabetic and 1344 non-diabetic patients undergoing major surgery showed that normoglycaemia (blood glucose 4.4 - 6.1 mmol/l) induced by intravenous Actrapid FlexPen reduced mortality by 42% (8% versus 4.6%).
Actrapid FlexPen is a fast-acting insulin.
Onset of action is within Â½ hour, reaches a maximum effect within 1.5-3.5 hours and the entire duration of action is approximately 7-8 hours.
Insulin in the blood stream has a half-life of a few minutes. Consequently, the time-action profile of an insulin preparation is determined solely by its absorption characteristics.
This process is influenced by several factors (e.g. insulin dose, injection route and site, thickness of subcutaneous fat, type of diabetes). The pharmacokinetics of insulin medicinal products are therefore affected by significant intra- and inter-individual variation.
The maximum plasma concentration is reached within 1.5-2.5 hours after subcutaneous administration.
No profound binding to plasma proteins, except circulating insulin antibodies (if present) has been observed.
Human insulin is reported to be degraded by insulin protease or insulin-degrading enzymes and possibly protein disulfide isomerase. A number of cleavage (hydrolysis) sites on the human insulin molecule have been proposed; none of the metabolites formed following the cleavage are active.
The terminal half-life is determined by the rate of absorption from the subcutaneous tissue. The terminal half-life (tÂ½) is therefore a measure of the absorption rather than of the elimination per se of insulin from plasma (insulin in the blood stream has a tÂ½ of a few minutes). Trials have indicated a tÂ½ of about 2-5 hours.
The pharmacokinetic profile of Actrapid FlexPen has been studied in a small number (n=18) of diabetic children (aged 6-12 years) and adolescents (aged 13-17 years). The data are limited but suggest that the pharmacokinetic profile in children and adolescents may be similar to that in adults. However, there were differences between age groups in Cmax, stressing the importance of individual dose titration.
Non-clinical data reveal no special hazard for humans based on conventional studies of safety pharmacology, repeated dose toxicity, genotoxicity, carcinogenic potential, toxicity to reproduction and development.
Insulin medicinal products should only be added to compounds with which it is known to be compatible. Medicinal products added to the insulin solution may cause degradation of the insulin, e.g. if the medicinal products contain thiols or sulfites.
Do not use this medicinal product if you notice that the solution is not clear, colourless and aqueous.
Actrapid FlexPen which has been frozen must not be used.
The patient should be advised to discard the needle and syringe after each injection.
Any unused medicinal product or waste material should be disposed of in accordance with local requirements.
Needles, syringes, cartridges and pre-filled-pens must not be shared.
The cartridge must not be refilled.