NovoPen 6 – new reusable insulin pen

I wrote recently about re-usable pens (which I much prefer over the disposables). For years in Australia Novo Nordisk has provided two pens to use with their Penfill cartridges:

  • NovoPen 4: 1U increments up to 60U/dose.
  • NovoPen Echo: has memory of last dose size and time, 0.5U increments up to 30U.

Of course, the older NovoPen 3 still works (I know of many still in use). Now they’ve brought the NovoPen 6 to Australia.

This is available for free from pharmacies (and presumably directly from Novo). It has a few nice features:

Like the NovoPen 4 it has 1U increments up to 60U/dose. To get 0.5U increments you’ll still need to use the NovoPen Echo.

But it has memory like the Echo. A tiny LCD display on the pen button shows this.
Incidentally, the NovoPen 5 had this, but it was never brought to Australia.

A new function that the NovoPen 6 brings is NFC. You can scan the pen using apps on your phone to retrieve the history of doses. Mind you, we don’t have access to this in Australia yet.

Novo do have a NovoPen Echo Plus which is the 0.5 U partner to the NovoPen 6 (like the Echo was to the 5) but I’ve seen no sign yet of this arriving in Australia.

What triggered this?

The introduction of the NovoPen 6 has coincided with Novo’s supply issues of the Ryzodeg FlexTouch disposable pens. Ryzodeg is available in Penfill instead, and it looks like a large number of people (mostly with T2 diabetes) are getting switched to the Penfill format and thus need pens…

Ryzodeg is a mixed insulin used by a lot of people with T2D. It’s essentially 70% long-acting “Tresiba” combined with 30% NovoRapid.

The “anticipated shortage” report at the TGA says the Ryzodeg FlexTouch shortage will commence on the 16th of June 2023 and continue for almost a year. But Penfills are still available.

Of course, the NovoPen 6 also works with all the other Penfill cartridges.

It may also be related to the possibility that Fiasp might return to us in Penfill form.

Last dose display

The dose/time display is actually an upgrade from the Echo. It shows the precise amount of time since the dose, not just bars showing approximately how many hours.

Memory and uploads

The display on the end of the pen only shows you the last dose (even if it was just a prime function). But the pen actually remembers the last 3 months worth of doses, and you can upload that to your phone via an NFC scan.

However, while software including Glooko, MySugr, and LibreLink can do this overseas, the versions of those in the Australian App/Play Stores do not yet support this feature. The Novo documentation currently says “Coming soon”.

OpenSource FTW

Although no commercial software is yet available in Australia to talk to these pens, it turns out that the opensource xDrip+ software (which runs on Android and some of us use to control CGMs including Dexcom G6) already includes support for reading the last week’s worth of doses from the pen.

xDrip+ NovoPen screenshotI have confirmed today that this works on my Cubot KingKong Mini 3 with a NovoPen 6.

As the source code for this is freely available, we may see it appear in a few more tools now that the pens are available too.

Smart Pen?

Novo has sometimes used this term for these pens, although there’s not a lot of “smarts” in the pen. It does facilitate interfacing with smart software though.

Mind you, we do have to remember to scan the pen to read the info out (unlike the Bluetooth-enabled pens such as the Medtronic/Companion InPen, and some others starting to reach markets overseas). But it’s a lot better than having to rely on our memories and manual records.

Battery life

The pen’s internal battery cannot be replaced (well, I know the Echo’s can’t: I’ve tried) but it is rated to last 4 – 5 years.
When the battery eventually dies the memory functions will cease to operate, but the pen keeps working in terms of measuring and delivering doses.

Where can you get it?

From pharmacies (at no cost). Novo even provides a list of which pharmacies are participating in their NovoPen 6 program. Just feed in your location and it will give you a map. But you might also find it if you ask at your regular pharmacy.

14 thoughts on “NovoPen 6 – new reusable insulin pen”

  1. Patricia ‘Lesley’ Robertson

    Is there a pharmacy in Mandurah Western Australia where I would be able to purchase one. And does O.5 mean it does half measurements like the childrens one. Thank you. Lesley

    1. I included the link to the pharmacy locator website in the article. Yes I can see more than a dozen pharmacies in 6210 which are part of the program.

      And you don’t “purchase” one. You get given one.

      The NovoPen 6 does NOT do half-unit measurements. The NovoPen Echo does, and you can get that by calling Novo Nordisk in Sydney and asking them to post you one (again, at no cost last time I checked).

  2. Barbara Steele

    Is it available in Tuncurry NSW! I have the old pen and although on a pump still use a pen to supplement sometimes!

    1. Look at the locator website and find out.

      I asked at my usual pharmacy which isn’t on Novo’s list, and although they didn’t have any on the shelf they tell me they should have it next week.

  3. For me using the Echo pen, Novo have been quite happy to replace pens whose batteries have died. Normally get a “–” or a blank display when this occurs, best to wait a few hours as sometimes the pen has just had a software malfunction and somehow resets itself.

    To replace just called the Novo helpline. They sent me a working reconditioned pen with a package to return the broken/end of life pen back to them. Guessing they fix these pens or use the parts to send out future working replacements.

    Hope they also release the companion Echo Plus pen in Australia. For T1’s the lower dose version with 0.5 units is really helpful. Also if Fiasp ends up as a released in Aus as a retail only product the cost of insulin means being able to prime with 0.5 units thus getting more doses out of the cartridge might actually matter

    1. I did confirm that the Echo Plus is not available yet. That would be convenient. But for now the Echo is the 0.5U option.

      Incidentally when I reported my Echo as being flat they didn’t mention a swap. They sent me a new pair (one red, one blue).

  4. Have been using the Novopen 6 for a few weeks now….

    Comparing too older Novo pens the end-cap is noticeably bigger, am guessing it contains the ring shaped NFC antenna. Most of the rest of the case is metal which would inhibit signal. This larger endcap gives slightly bigger screen which is good.

    The new explicit time reading is so much better than the hourly bars shown previously. This is especially true for fast acting insulin, can tell now much more precisely how much insulin has likely absorbed and thus estimate remaining active dose.

    Sort of bad though is decision to output seconds in the time elapsed value, which forced the font much smaller, is now harder to read in low light situations than the previous bars.

    Contacted Abbott to ask for Librelink app to support the Novopen. They said would need to do an update and will announce it on their website when it happens. Didn’t sound like they were in any hurry though. Hope this update sneaks in with no-scanning Libre 2 update the UK has just received(ver 2.10).

    Really want the 1/2 unit Novopen Echo version. Most doses are 1-5units want the extra control, really need it to get overnight at the right levels.

  5. Has anyone managed to see these in any colour other than silver? Using two different insulins, I like my pens to be different colours, but every pharmacy I’ve tried so far only has silver.

    1. I believe only the silver is being brought in to Australia at the moment.
      But you can get “skins” or stickers to make your pens whatever colour you want. Examples are at My Diabetic Life.

  6. Does anyone know if this could administer Optisulin penfills? They seem superficially similar to novo’s cartridges, being 3mL @ 100IU/mL.
    But are they *the same*? And can I get one out of a SoloStar pen like they come out of a FlexTouch pen?

    1. No they’re not the same. The Optisulin and Apidra SoloStar pens can be broken down to get the cartridge out and then it’s the same as the Optisulin/Apidra cartridges.
      But don’t do that to a Toujeo SoloStar: that way madness lies. There’s a reason Toujeo only comes in pens.

      It is possible to shoehorn an Optisulin cartridge into a NovoPen. It does need a little extender to fool the pen into thinking a longer Penfill is in there (I’ve made those with a sharp blade attacking the cover of a needle to get a ring that was the right size). Plus a threaded cap on the end.
      HOWEVER, the internal diameter of the cartridge is slightly different, and the dosing would be incorrect.

  7. Started using the Nov6 pen and found have to inject twice as my dosage is above the 60 units, not happy about with having do this everyday.

    1. So each dose for you is somewhere between the 60U maximum of the NovoPen 6 and the 80U max of the FlexTouch pen.
      Unfortunate and annoying, but (as someone who’s very used to injecting from 0-many times per day) it doesn’t feel like a critical flaw. Good luck!

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