Similarities and differences between Novolin N vs Humulin N


Novolin N and Humulin N are both injectable insulins that are used to control blood glucose levels in patients with diabetes. Both medications come in vials that you can inject under the skin using an insulin pen. Your doctor will show you how to safely administer these medications from home. The drugs are supposed to be injected under the skin once or twice every day. It is advisable you inject these medications into the fat tissue of the stomach, upper arm or buttocks. You should not inject these meds into a vein, since it may lead to low blood sugar.

Novolin N and Humulin N are brand names of the same insulin drug known as NPH or Neutral Protamine Hagedorn. NPH is an intermediate-acting insulin with an onset time of 1 to 2 hours. Insulin NPH has a peak time of 4 to 6 hours, which is the time when it is most effective in reducing high blood sugar levels. Both drugs work by mimicking the work of the natural hormone called insulin. Insulin helps the fat and muscle cells absorb glucose from the bloodstream. In case the blood glucose is too high, insulin prevents the liver from producing more glucose. This process helps to lower high blood glucose levels.

Side effects

When you inject Novolin N or Humulin N, it may result in similar side effects.

Common side effects between medications include the following:

  • Skin rash
  • Allergic reaction
  • Unexpected weight gain
  • Low blood sugar
  • Low level of potassium
  • Injection site reaction
  • Itchiness

Severe side effects include

  • heart failure
  • blurred vision
  • swelling in the feet and hands

In case you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek medical help right away.

Novolin N and Humulin N: Drug interactions

Novolin N and Humulin N have similar drug interactions when taken in combination with other substances. You may experience symptoms of hypoglycemia when you take them in combination with other medications such as:

  • High blood pressure drugs like metoprolol, nadolol, atenolol and sotalol;
  • Anti depressants such as fluoxetine;
  • Sulfonamide antibiotics like sulfomethoxazole;
  • Other diabetes medication.

Therefore, it is important you inform your doctor about other medications you are using before you start taking Novolin N or Humulin N.


Humulin N is available in both vials and KwikPen, while Novolin N is available in vials only. Since the KwikPen is more expensive than the vials, it is important you check with your insurance to find out what they can cover.

Disclaimer: Please note that the contents of this community article are strictly for informational purposes and should not be considered as medical advice. This article, and other community articles, are not written or reviewed for medical validity by Canadian Insulin or its staff. All views and opinions expressed by the contributing authors are not endorsed by Canadian Insulin. Always consult a medical professional for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.