When managing diabetes, choosing the right insulin can make a significant difference in blood sugar control. Two popular fast-acting insulin options are Apidra and NovoLog. Both are designed to help manage blood glucose levels after meals, but they have unique properties and may work differently for individuals. In this article, we’ll explore the key differences between Apidra and NovoLog, including their onset, peak, and duration times, as well as their effectiveness and potential side effects.

Key Takeaways

  • Apidra and NovoLog are rapid-acting insulins used to control blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, with Apidra containing insulin glulisine and NovoLog containing insulin aspart.
  • Apidra starts working within 15 minutes and peaks at 30-90 minutes, while NovoLog also begins within 15 minutes but peaks at 1 hour after injection.
  • Side effects for both insulins include low blood sugar and injection site reactions, with Apidra potentially causing itching and NovoLog possibly leading to weight gain.
  • Apidra can be taken immediately before or up to 20 minutes after starting a meal, whereas NovoLog is typically injected 5-10 minutes before a meal.

Comparing Apidra vs. NovoLog

Drug ClassRapid-acting human insulin analogRapid-acting human insulin analog
Indications and UsesUsed to improve glycemic control in adults and children with diabetes mellitus.Used to improve glycemic control in adults and children with diabetes mellitus.
Dosage And AdministrationAdminister subcutaneously within 15 minutes before a meal or within 20 minutes after starting a meal.Administer subcutaneously immediately before a meal (5-10 minutes) or soon after starting a meal
Forms and StrengthsInjectable solution

  • 100 units/mL (U-100) in 10 mL vials
  • 3 mL cartridges for use in the OptiClik Insulin Delivery Device.
Injectable solution

  • 100 units/mL (U-100) in 10 mL vials
  • 3 mL PenFill cartridges
  • 3 mL NovoLog FlexPen
  • 3 mL NovoLog FlexTouch
Side Effects
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Allergic reactions
  • Injection site reactions
  • Lipodystrophy
  • Pruritus
  • Rash
  • Hypoglycemia,
  • Allergic reactions
  • Injection site reactions
  • Lipodystrophy
  • Pruritus
  • Rash
Warnings and PrecautionsAPIDRA should not be mixed with other insulins in pumps or for intravenous use. Beware of potential hypersensitivity, hypokalemia, and renal or hepatic impairment effects.Includes warnings against sharing injection devices, proper storage conditions, and monitoring for heart failure with certain drugs (PPAR-gamma agonists). Also includes precautions regarding renal and hepatic impairment.

What is Apidra?

Apidra Insulin vs NovoLog Insulin

Apidra is a diabetes medication that is taken via injections. Apidra is commonly used to treat either type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes  (insulin-dependent diabetes) in both adults and children who are at least 4 years old It contains insulin glulisine, which is an analog drug that works similarly to naturally occurring insulin in the body. Apidra works rapidly after injection, typically within 15-20 minutes, and it is used to control blood sugar levels. It allows for flexible dietary habits as it works quickly and doesn’t stay in the body for an extended period.

Apidra Side Effects

Here are the side effects of Apidra according to the FDA:

  • Nasopharyngitis: 10.6% of patients reported experiencing nasopharyngitis, which is inflammation of the nasal passages and throat.
  • Hypoglycemia: 6.8% reported severe symptomatic hypoglycemia, characterized by low blood sugar that may require intervention.
  • Upper Respiratory Tract Infection: 6.6% experienced infections in the upper respiratory tract.
  • Influenza: 4% of patients reported symptoms of influenza.

For pediatric patients (children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes):

  • Catheter Occlusions: Occurred at a rate of 0.08 per month.
  • Infusion Site Reactions: 10.3% experienced reactions at the infusion site, such as redness or irritation.

Additionally, the following side effects were identified during post-approval use of Apidra, though their specific frequencies are unknown due to voluntary reporting:

  • Allergic Reactions: Some patients experienced local reactions like redness, swelling, or itching at the injection site. There were also reports of potential systemic allergic reactions, with one reported case leading to discontinuation of Apidra.
  • Generalized Myalgias: Muscle aches related to using metacresol, an excipient in Apidra.
  • Antibody Production: Some patients developed cross-reactive insulin antibodies, though the clinical significance of these antibodies is not known.

Pros of Apidra

  • Rapid Onset of Action: Begins to work faster than regular insulin, which is beneficial for controlling blood sugar levels around meal times.
  • Flexibility in Timing: It can be administered 15 minutes before a meal or 20 minutes after starting a meal, allowing for more flexible meal planning.
  • Clear Solution: Easy to inspect for clarity and color before administration to ensure safety.
  • Subcutaneous and Intravenous Use: This product is available for subcutaneous injections and intravenous infusions under medical supervision, offering versatility in administration.
  • Available in Different Formats: Comes in vials and cartridges for use in certain insulin pens, providing options for different preferences and needs.
  • Pediatric Usage: Studied and approved for use in children, helping manage diabetes in pediatric patients effectively.

Cons of Apidra

  • Short Duration: Does not work as long as other forms of insulin, which may require more frequent dosing or combination with longer-acting insulins.
  • Risk of Hypoglycemia: Like all insulin products, it can cause low blood sugar, which can be dangerous if not managed properly.
  • Potential for Allergic Reactions: Can cause local allergic reactions at the injection site, such as redness, swelling, or itching.
  • Incompatibility with Some Solutions: Cannot be mixed with Dextrose or Ringer’s solution, limiting some hospital use cases.
  • Special Storage Requirements: Requires storage in a refrigerator and careful handling to avoid exposure to extreme temperatures.
  • Expiry and Handling Caution: After first use, vials and cartridges must be used within 28 days or discarded, which might lead to waste if not used frequently.

What is NovoLog?

What is NovoLog?

NovoLog, on the other hand, is also a diabetes medication taken via injections. It contains insulin aspart, another analogue drug that facilitates the rapid uptake of glucose into blood cells for energy conversion. For type 2 diabetes, NovoLog is used in adults. For Type 1 diabetes, it is used in both adults and children who are at least 2 years old. Like Apidra, it regulates blood sugar levels and can be taken before or after meals.

NovoLog side effects

The side effects of NovoLog as identified in the clinical trials among patients are as follows:

  • Hypoglycemia: The most commonly reported side effect observed in approximately 75% of patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus during clinical trials. Hypoglycemia is defined as an episode of blood glucose concentration <45 mg/dL, with or without symptoms.
  • Headache: Reported by 12% of patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus.
  • Weight Gain: This side effect can occur with insulin therapy and is attributed to the anabolic effects of insulin and the decrease in glucosuria.
  • Peripheral Edema: Insulin may cause sodium retention and edema, especially if intensified insulin therapy improves previously poor metabolic control.

Additional adverse reactions identified during post-approval use, include:

  • Serious Allergic Reactions: Reactions can include anaphylaxis and angioedema.
  • Injection Site Reactions: Including redness, pain, itching, hives, and swelling.
  • Lipodystrophy: Manifested as skin thickening or pits at the injection site due to localized fat tissue changes.
  • Pruritus and Rash: Generalized itching and rash.

Pros of NovoLog

  • Rapid onset of action: Begins to work quickly, typically within 15 minutes, making it suitable for controlling blood sugar levels at mealtimes.
  • Short duration: Its effects last for a shorter period, reducing the risk of late postprandial hypoglycemia.
  • Flexibility: It can be administered just before or after meals, providing flexibility in timing relative to food intake.
  • Various formulations are available: Comes in different forms like vials, PenFill cartridges, and FlexPen/FlexTouch pens, offering several administration options.
  • Compatible with pumps: Can be used in insulin pumps for continuous insulin delivery.
  • Clear and colorless solution: Easy to inspect for particulates or discoloration, ensuring safety.

Cons of NovoLog

  • Risk of hypoglycemia: Due to its rapid onset, there’s a higher risk of hypoglycemia if meals are delayed or skipped after injection.
  • Frequent dosing: You may require multiple doses throughout the day, which could be inconvenient.
  • Injection site reactions: Possible local reactions like redness, swelling, and itching at the injection site.
  • Storage requirements: Needs to be stored in specific conditions (refrigerated or at room temperature), which might be challenging during travel.
  • Cost: Depending on healthcare coverage, it can be expensive for some patients.
  • Limited use in specific populations: Not extensively studied in pregnant women or children with diabetes under 2 years of age.

Dosage And Administration


The dosage and administration of Apidra are as follows:

  • Subcutaneous Injection: Apidra should be administered 15 minutes before or 20 minutes after starting a meal. It is typically used in a regimen with intermediate or long-acting insulin.
  • Continuous Subcutaneous Infusion (Insulin Pump): Apidra should not be mixed or diluted in an external insulin infusion pump. The insulin in the pump reservoir should be changed every 48 hours.
  • Intravenous Infusion: Apidra can be infused intravenously under medical supervision at concentrations ranging from 0.05 Units/mL to 1 Unit/mL in 0.9% sodium chloride using polyvinyl chloride infusion bags. Close monitoring of blood glucose and potassium levels is necessary to prevent hypoglycemia and hypokalemia.


For the dosage and administration of NovoLog, here’s a breakdown for each method:

  • Subcutaneous Injection: NovoLog should be administered via subcutaneous injection in the abdominal region, buttocks, thigh, or upper arm 5-10 minutes before a meal. Rotate injection sites to reduce the risk of lipodystrophy. Personalize the dosage based on insulin needs and patient response. Only use NovoLog if it’s clear and colorless, not viscous or cloudy.
  • Continuous Subcutaneous Infusion (Insulin Pump): NovoLog can be infused using an external insulin pump without dilution. Infuse before meals as a pre-meal bolus within 5-10 minutes of eating. Rotate infusion sites to reduce the risk of lipodystrophy and follow NovoLog-specific pump guidelines.
  • Intravenous Use: NovoLog can be given intravenously under medical supervision to control blood sugar levels. Close monitoring of blood glucose and potassium levels is crucial to prevent low blood sugar and potassium levels. NovoLog should be used at concentrations ranging from 0.05 U/mL to 1.0 U/mL of insulin aspart in infusion systems that use polypropylene infusion bags. It has remained stable in infusion fluids such as 0.9% sodium chloride.

Did You Know

Diabetes mellitus is a chronic condition that affects 463 million people globally. It is estimated that 150-200 million people worldwide are reliant on insulin therapy.

How Effective Are the Apidra vs. NovoLog in Treating Diabetes?

In adults with type 2 diabetes, Apidra showed a decrease in HbA1c of 0.46% after six months. Apidra also effectively improves glycemic control in adults and children with diabetes mellitus. Studies on Apidra have demonstrated its efficacy in reducing HbA1c levels and controlling blood glucose in patients with diabetes. However, individual responses to insulin therapy can vary, and the effectiveness of Apidra alone may depend on factors such as the patient’s specific condition, insulin needs, and overall treatment plan.

NovoLog is also highly effective in managing diabetes by improving blood sugar control. Various studies have shown that insulin aspart significantly lowers blood sugar levels, especially after meals (postprandial glucose), which is crucial for overall diabetes management. For instance, in a study involving patients with Type 1 diabetes, those using insulin aspart experienced better sugar control after meals compared to regular human insulin.

Another study noted a significant decrease in HbA1c levels, a measure of long-term blood sugar management, in Type 2 diabetes patients using insulin aspart over 52 weeks. Specifically, the reduction ranged from about 0.1% to 0.8% across different studies, which can be clinically significant. This makes it a versatile and reliable option for managing diabetes across different patient populations.

Cost of Apidra vs. NovoLog

StrengthQuantityUS PriceBCI PriceSavings
100 U/ml1 vial$101.40$59$41.41
100 U/ml2 vials$195.45$99$96.45
100 U/ml3 vials$289.50$135$154.50
NovoLog (Insulin Aspart)
100 U/ml1 vial$151.85$79$72.85
100 U/ml2 vials$296.70$156$140.70
100 U/ml3 vials$441.55$228$213.55
NovoLog PenFill cartridges
100 U/ml5 cartridges$155.69$136$19.69
100 U/ml10 cartridges$304.03$270$34.03

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When choosing between Apidra and NovoLog, it’s essential to consider their effectiveness, side effects, and costs. Both are rapid-acting insulins that help manage blood sugar levels effectively, but they may differ in how quickly they start working and their duration of action. Apidra and NovoLog each have their pros and cons, and understanding these can help you select the one that best fits your needs. Additionally, comparing prices, such as those on Buy Canadian Insulin, can offer significant savings, making your diabetes management more affordable.

FAQs About Apidra and NovoLog

Is Apidra better than NovoLog?

Both Apidra and NovoLog are rapid-acting insulins. The effectiveness of each can vary from person to person. Some may find Apidra works better for them, while others may prefer NovoLog. The best choice depends on individual response and specific medical needs.

What insulin can replace NovoLog?

Insulins that can replace NovoLog include Apidra (insulin glulisine) and Humalog (insulin lispro). All are rapid-acting insulins that help control blood sugar levels after meals.

What is the difference between NovoRapid and NovoLog?

NovoRapid and NovoLog are the same insulin, containing insulin aspart. NovoRapid is the name used in many countries, while NovoLog is the name used in the United States.

What is the difference between Humalog and Apidra?

Humalog (insulin lispro) and Apidra (insulin glulisine) are both rapid-acting insulins. They work similarly to control blood sugar levels, but they have slight differences in their molecular structure, which may affect how quickly they start working and their duration of action.

What is the difference between NovoRapid and Apidra?

NovoRapid (also known as NovoLog in the US) and Apidra are both rapid-acting insulins. They work in similar ways to lower blood sugar levels, but they have different active ingredients: NovoRapid contains insulin aspart, while Apidra contains insulin glulisine.

What is the equivalent of Apidra?

The generic equivalent of Apidra is insulin glulisine.

How long can Apidra last?

Once opened, Apidra can last up to 28 days when stored at room temperature. Unopened vials or pens should be refrigerated and can be used until the expiration date on the package.

Is Apidra a good insulin?

Apidra is considered a good insulin for managing blood sugar levels in diabetes. However, its suitability varies depending on individual health factors.

When is the best time to take Apidra?

Apidra is typically taken 15 minutes before or 20 minutes after a meal. This timing allows the insulin to manage blood sugar levels in response to food intake effectively.

Does Apidra need to be refrigerated?

Apidra should be stored in the refrigerator between 36°F to 46°F (2°C to 8°C) but can be kept at room temperature below 86°F (30°C) for up to 28 days. It should not be frozen and should be protected from light and heat.

Where to inject Apidra?

Apidra can be injected subcutaneously into the abdomen, thigh, or upper arm. The injection site should be rotated to reduce the risk of lipodystrophy.

What is a cheaper alternative to NovoLog?

Cheaper alternatives to NovoLog include other rapid-acting insulins such as Humalog (insulin lispro) and Apidra (insulin glulisine). On Buy Canadian Insulin, Humalog is priced at $52.00 for 1 vial, while Apidra costs $59.00 for 1 vial. These prices offer significant savings compared to the cost of NovoLog, making Humalog and Apidra viable and more affordable alternatives.

How long does it take NovoLog to lower blood sugar?

NovoLog starts to work within 10-20 minutes after injection, peaks in about 1 hour, and lasts for 2-4 hours.


U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2015). NovoLog® (insulin aspart [rDNA origin] injection) solution for subcutaneous use. Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2015/020986s082lbl.pdf

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2008). Highlights of Prescribing Information: Apidra (insulin glulisine [rDNA origin] injection) solution for injection. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2008/021629s015lbl.pdf

European Medicines Agency. (n.d.). Apidra. Overview. Retrieved May 15, 2024, from https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/medicines/human/EPAR/apidra

Hermansen, K., Bohl, M., & Schioldan, A. G. (2016). Insulin Aspart in the Management of Diabetes Mellitus: 15 Years of Clinical Experience. Drugs, 76, 41–74. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4700065/