What is Ultralente Insulin?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ultralente insulin is an insulin product with a long-acting effect, peaking at around 12 to 16 hours after the patient receives a dose and working for as long as 36 hours in the body. It is designed to be taken in one or two doses daily, depending on the needs of the patient. Most drug manufacturers are not producing this product anymore and in many nations, such as the United States, use of ultralente insulin has been suspended in lieu of other products.

Patients who need ultralente insulin can administer it through an injection.
Patients who need ultralente insulin can administer it through an injection.

People need to take insulin when their bodies cannot produce enough of this hormone on their own, or their bodies do not respond properly to insulin. This is the case in patients with diabetes, who experience alterations in blood glucose levels as a result of their condition. These patients may be able to control their health with diet and exercise in some cases, and in others, must take insulin to regulate their blood sugar. There are many different insulin products available to meet the needs of different kinds of patients.

In the United States, use of ultralente insulin has been suspended in lieu of other products.
In the United States, use of ultralente insulin has been suspended in lieu of other products.

Insulin can be very fast acting, intermediate, or long-acting. Ultralente insulin is a long acting product, taken by patients who do not respond well to other types of insulin or who benefit from this kind of drug. Patients can take the drug by injection, adjusting the timing and dosage as needed in response to changing blood sugar levels. Also known as extended insulin zinc suspension, ultralente insulin is prescribed by a doctor who also provides the patient with information about how to use it safely.

This product is an example of recombinant human insulin, made with the use of laboratory technology rather than being extracted from cattle or pig sources. The ability to create synthetic insulin was a significant breakthrough in the healthcare field and has radically expanded the treatment options for diabetes. Even with insulin, patients must still take care to avoid complications of diabetes caused by poor control of the disease, as may occur if patients do not use insulin as directed.

Many texts and handouts on diabetes still reference ultralente insulin, although this product is not in use anymore. This is a common phenomenon in the medical field, where changes in available technology can be hard to keep up with. Understanding what this product is and how it is intended to work can help people understand the information being conveyed in outdated medical reference materials.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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