Eli Lilly has launched a new premixed insulin product in the USA that is aimed at diabetics who find it hard to keep to a regimen of regular, balanced meals.

Humalog Mix50/50 (insulin lispro protamine/insulin lispro) contains both short-acting and long-acting insulin in equal proportions and is available in a pen injector device. It is designed to provide blood sugar control between meals, but also includes a higher percentage of rapid-acting insulin for people with diabetes who need more insulin control at mealtimes.

The Humalog component starts lowering blood sugar more quickly than regular human insulin, allowing for convenient dosing immediately before a meal.

"Some people with diabetes try to make an effort but are busy and don't always eat balanced meals,” said Ron Hoven, diabetes care marketing director at Eli Lilly.

“For those who need improved blood sugar control at mealtime while also balancing their blood sugar between meals, Humalog Mix50/50 may provide a new solution."

The new formulation adds another growth driver for the Humalog range, which in 2005, saw a 9% increase in global sales to $1.2 billion, although competition in the sector is fierce.

Lilly’s position as market leader in the insulin market has been snatched by arch rival Novo Nordisk, at least according to the latter firm, which claimed last week it had 51% of the global market for insulin products in 2005.