A finer point

A new ultra-fine 5mm pen needle with five-bevel comfort has been introduced by BD Becton Dickinson) for injecting insulin in Australia.

BD says an extra thin wall, or cannula, improves the flow rate of insulin for a faster injection, and the design of a new needle tip reduces penetration force and increases comfort.

Pharmacist and Credentialled Diabetes Educator Kirrily Chambers says the new features could help healthcare professionals transition people using injectable diabetes medications to shorter pen needles.

“While there are no medical reasons for using pen needles longer than 5mm, a recent survey[1], found that as many as 56 per cent of Australians were still using 6mm and 8mm pen needles” Ms Chambers said.

“Using a 5mm pen needle substantially reduces the risk of intramuscular injection compared to longer pen needle lengths. If someone is reluctant to switch from a 6mm or 8mm pen needle to a 4mm, this new, enhanced 5mm pen needle could be a good stepping stone.”

The survey, conducted among 368 Australians who inject insulin to manage their diabetes, also found that most respondents reported experiencing pain (79 per cent) and bruising (82 per cent) from time to time as a result of injecting.

In addition to needle length, needle tip geometry is among several factors that influence pain related to insulin injection, and the five-bevel design has been shown to help address this.

In a preclinical laboratory study using a skin substitute, average penetration force was 23 per cent lower with the five-bevel pen needles compared with similar three-bevel pen needles (p ≤ 0.01)

When the authors went on to evaluate patient ratings of the two needle types in a home setting involving 84 patients, the five-bevel needles were rated as significantly more comfortable, easier to insert, and six to nine times more preferable to their usual three-bevel needles.

“While it is recommended that needles are left in the skin for 10 seconds or more after the medication has been dispensed[2], as many as 58 per cent of those surveyed were not following this practice, which ensures full dose delivery,” Ms Chambers said.

BD began shipping the new needles in February and they should be available in pharmacies in mid to late March.

The new updated product is available on the National Diabetes Service Scheme.

[1] Diabetes and injection management – Australia. September 2018. Data on file.
[2] Australian Diabetes Educators Association (ADEA). Clinical Guiding Principles for Subcutaneous Injection Technique. Canberra: 2017.

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