Compare Apidra Vs. Novolog

What is the Difference Between Apidra Vs. NovoLog?

Apidra and Novolog are both essential medical drugs known as rapid-acting insulins used for people with diabetes.

Both are excellent choices recommended by doctors and diabetics alike. The duration and onset are different based on which insulin you decide on, along with when you can take it (i.e. post meal).

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apidra vs novolog

Every person has varying reactions to drugs, in this case insulin. There can be a massive difference between patients (i.e., what does their daily dose look like? Blood sugar levels? Activity levels? Eating schedule?), so it's not uncommon for patients to be switched from one treatment to treatment.

These two drugs have their pros and cons like any medication, but what are they exactly? 

All of your health-based questions are covered in this article; keep on reading!

What is rapid-acting insulin?

A rapid-acting insulin is a man-made (synthetic) insulin, also called fast-acting insulin, that is a form of injectable medication prescribed for people that need assistance controlling blood sugar (glucose) levels (commonly referred to as diabetes).

This insulin can be absorbed quickly into the bloodstream, usually within minutes. It is normally injected prior to meals or snacks due to its mimicry of bolus insulin, a surge of insulin released by the pancreas in response to the ingestion of food.

This form of insulin is administered using a few different methods:

  1. An insulin pump
  2. A needle and syringe
  3. A pre-filled pen
  4. Inhaled (another version of rapid-acting insulin)

Prescribed for people with type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune condition, rapid-actin insulin is utilized by those that have a pancreas that does not produce it on its own. This insulin can be used to bring overly high blood glucose to a normal level.

People with type 2 diabetes may need insulin if they cannot control their blood glucose with exercise, medications, and diet. 

What is Apidra?

Apidra, or insulin glulisine, is fast-acting insulin. It is used for those with type 1 and types 2 diabetes. Apidra controls blood sugar around mealtimes, specifically for those with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. 

Apidra releases a hormone called insulin into the body to lower glucose (sugar) levels in the blood. The dosage can be different per individual, mainly dependent on weight, responsiveness to insulin, and blood sugar level.

It is a fast-acting insulin that should be injected within 15 minutes before a meal or within 20 minutes after a meal has been started. It should be injected into the abdomen, upper arm, or thigh.

Apidra lasts about 2 to 4 hours but peaks around 1 hour after injection.

The pros of using Apidra-

  1. Duration is not affected by body weight
  2. Available in multiples forms
  3. Syringe and vial
  4. Insulin pen
  5. Insulin pump
  6. Fast-acting to control sugar levels after meals
  7.  Compared to Novolog, Apidra is associated with lower blood sugar levels during the first hour after a meal.
  8. Can be injected 15 minutes before or 20 minutes after a meal

Cons of using Apidra-

  1. It can be expensive since it is only available as a brand name
  2. Your doctor may have to have checkups on your kidneys and liver if you’ve had problems with either in the past
  3. Can only use one type of syringe to inject Apidra
  4. Apidra can not be administered through an IV or insulin pump IF it has been mixed with other insulins. 
  5. It has to be injected multiple times a day.
  6. Since it is an injectable form of insulin, it may not be the best option for those that are afraid of needles.

 demonstration of insulin pen

What is NovoLog?

Novolog, or insulin aspart, is a rapid-acting insulin that has been proven to aid in controlling high blood sugar in those with diabetes when taken with long-acting insulin.

This rapid-acting insulin helps lower mealtime blood sugar spikes in both adults and children with diabetes.

It starts to work 15 minutes after injection, works anywhere from 2 to 4 hours, and peaks in about 1 hour after injection. 

Novolog is mainly used to treat adults with type 2 diabetes, though it can also be used to treat adults and children that are at least 2 years old with type 1 diabetes. 

Pros of using NovoLog:

  1. It can be used if you have liver or kidney issues, unlike other diabetic medications.
  2. Available in 2 different forms for dosages
  3. Insulin pen
  4. Vial
  5. Available in a generic form, so less expensive when limited to only a brand name
  6. Provides dual-action fast-acting and intermediate-acting sugar control throughout the day and for meals

Cons of using Novolog:

  1. Must be comfortable giving yourself injections
  2. Can cause weight gain and fat accumulation
  3. Must be comfortable checking your blood sugar levels regularly 
  4. The combination of insulins can be harder to customize to personal requirements
  5. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can be caused if you do not take insulin consistently or if you have an inconsistent meal and exercise schedule
  6. Has a higher risk of low blood sugar when compared to medications taken by mouth


What are some similarities between Novolog and Apidra?

  1. Both are rapid-acting (also called fast-acting) synthetic (artificial) insulins (works as soon as 15 minutes after injection)
  2. They both treat type 1 and type 2 diabetes
  3. Peak about an hour after injection
  4. Continue to work 2 to 4 hours after injection
  5. Injected under the skin or into a vein (injection pen or insulin pump methods)


What are some differences between Novolog and Apidra?


  1. Refers to the brand name of insulin glulisine
  2. Meant to be taken within 15 minutes before or 20 minutes after you eat (post-meal)
  3. Cost is slightly higher
  4. It lasts up to 4 hours
  5. Used to treat adults with type 1 or type 2 diabetes AND type 1 diabetes in children above the age of 6


  1. Refers to the brand name of insulin aspart
  2. You should eat within 5 to 10 minutes after using Novolog
  3. Cost is slightly less than Apidra
  4. It lasts between 3 to 5 hours 
  5. Used to treat adults with type 1 and type 2 diabetes AND children over the age of 2 with type 1 diabetes

Which is the best rapid-acting insulin to keep blood sugar under control?

Based on reviews I’ve found here on those with diabetes and their personal preferences and experiences with Novolog and Apidra, it seems that people are learning more heavily with Apidra.


Here’s why:

  1. “Apidra works very fast.”
  2. “Overall, there shouldn't be too much difference in control using either as they're both excellent insulins. I like the action of the Apidra for dealing with my meals better than Novolog. I tried both and am sticking with Apidra. Because of the faster action, it deals with meal spikes a little more efficiently IMO.”
  3. "I wish I had found Apidra sooner; it would have saved a stack of unnecessary testing as I had been blaming Lantus for the lows."
  4. For reference, Lantus is a diabetic insulin pen.
  5. "I've been using (pumping) Apidra for about two and one-half years. Previously, I was using Humalog. I find the onset to be much quicker than Humalog, and the duration to be much shorter. This caused an unusual set of problems. I found that the Apidra would be done working, and my BGL might still be on its way up after a meal. I fixed that by doing a dual-wave bolus for many meals. Now it seems I have the best of both worlds; quick onset and long duration."


Others that are sticking to Novolog say this:

  1. “I used Apridra for a full month, and my results weren’t good. I had higher spikes, and for me, it took longer for the spikes to come down. I went back on my Novolog, and now my sensitivity is so good I have cut back 60% as for now on units.”
  2. "I loved Apidra for all the reasons already mentioned here. However, I had problems with the Solostar pens sticking part of the way through an injection and so changed to Novolog. I would love to go back to Apidra if it were available in 3ml cartridges, and the manufacturer also provided a pens capable of units in half doses."

From the responses on this forum, made by people with diabetes currently using or having had used Novolog and Apidra, both options could be great choices for diabetics but it depends on how the insulin personally reacts to you.

It's not uncommon for patients to switch because one medication works slightly faster or one has nagging side effects.

Everyone is different, meaning everyone reacts differently to insulin or has preferences of the method of injection, etc. Apidra is going to be a little more expensive but works quickly after injection.

Novolog is going to be less costly but will take longer to go into effect after injection.

Apidra vs Novolog can be a bit of a hard decision to make on your own.

Make sure you talk to your healthcare doctor before making any medical decisions on your own. It could be a volatile risk of life or death messing with a medical dose. Your health and life is important.

Talk with your doctor today and see which one, Apidra or Novolog, is best for you!

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kaelyn buzzo  Kaelyn is a Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach (ISSA) with a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing (English) and a Minor in Nutrition from the University of South Florida. Read More.