Citing the rising use of injection pens in hospitals and other healthcare settings, particularly in the treatment of diabetes, BD said the AutoShield pen needle offered not only protection against needlestick injuries for health workers but reassurance for patients and convenience/cost savings for hospitals and other purchasers. The convenience/cost saving angle is that the BD AutoShield Pen Needle is compatible with all insulin pens and dosers available in the US, as well as other with other pharmaceuticals supplied in injection pen formats. Some US hospitals are now considering using insulin pens to provide continuity of care, whereas previously they were hampered by a lack of safety-engineered pen needles, BD noted. The pens should also be more cost-effective, the company added: they contain 300 units of insulin, "a good quantity for patients who are admitted for a two to three day hospital stay". Insulin vials contain 1,000 units of insulin, and any excess has to be discarded once the patient is discharged. The safety features of the BD AutoShield Pen Needle comprise a plastic shield that moves back when the needle penetrates the skin, then locks into place again when the dose has been delivered and the needle withdrawn. Metal tabs provide visual confirmation that the safety device has been activated. The broad diameter of the shield reduces pressure on the patient's skin to ensure a more comfortable injection, while the flat end of the shield helps to stabilise the manoeuvre Moreover, hiding the needle from view both before and after injection makes dosing a less intimidating experience, BD said. The BD AutoShield Pen Needle is supplied in a single half-inch length, corresponding to most insulin syringes used in the hospital setting. Some diabetes patients do not achieve good control with shorter pen needles and, while these are often preferred by self-injectors for psychological regions, BD's product obviates that need by keeping the needle covered, it pointed out. Having introduced the world's first safety-engineered syringe in 1988, BD is a "recognised pioneer in injection safety technologies", it claims. The company, which dominated the insulin delivery systems market with its syringes until the late 1990s, had to adapt to a dramatic market shift as the new insulin pens rapidly squeezed out syringes as the injection device of choice. BD built up an alternative business by manufacturing and supplying insulin pen needles. With the trend to insulin pens now moving into the hospital market, the company is looking to capitalise on its brand recognition and consolidate its presence with the new safety device. "BD insulin syringes are the brand of choice for US hospitals and we hope to be their brand of choice for safety pen needles as well," commented John Simmons, vice-president, US sales and marketing for BD Medical-Diabetes Care.