Lantus vs Levemir

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For patients with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, certain drugs that regulate the levels of glucose in the blood can help manage symptoms and prevent complications. Lantus and Levemir are two such drugs that are prescribed as long-acting insulin for people with diabetes. They each impact the absorption rate and utilization of glucose but both have effects in maintaining a stable blood sugar level over an extended period. Lantus, known by its generic name insulin glargine, provides all-day sugar control with just one daily injection due to its steady release without having peaks. On the other hand, Levemir (insulin detemir) is also a long-acting basal insulin analog but usually requires twice-daily dosage for effective coverage throughout the day.

What is Lantus?

Insulin glargine (the generic name for Lantus) was a significant development in long-acting insulin analogs, which marked a major improvement over intermediate-acting insulins such as NPH. Insulin glargine was first approved by the FDA in 2000. Similar to how Prozac works with serotonin, Lantus works by regulating the body's glucose levels, effectively maintaining it at an even level for longer than usual. It is prescribed for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes management. On the other hand, insulin detemir (Levemir) is another long-acting insulin that provides a steady release of insulin similar to Lantus but differs slightly in its duration of action and weight gain profile. Levemir has been observed to have less variability in blood glucose control and causes slighter weight gain compared to Lantis making it an alternative option for some patients.

What conditions is Lantus approved to treat?

Lantus and Levemir are both approved for the treatment of different types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 Diabetes: where the body does not produce insulin
  • Type 2 Diabetes: where the body doesn't use insulin properly They are long-acting insulins used to control blood sugar levels throughout the day.

How does Lantus help with these illnesses?

Lantus and Levemir are both long-acting insulin analogs that help manage blood glucose levels in people with diabetes. They work by mimicking the basal insulin release of a non-diabetic pancreas, providing a low, steady level of insulin over a long period of time. This slow release helps to maintain a stable, constant level of glucose in the blood, preventing spikes and crashes. Both Lantus and Levemir are injected subcutaneously once or twice a day, depending on the patient's needs and the doctor's recommendations. They have a relatively flat action profile, which means they do not cause a sharp drop in blood glucose levels. Instead, they help to maintain a consistent, steady level of glucose in the blood, which can help patients manage their diabetes more effectively and reduce the risk of hypoglycemia. It is important to note that while both Levemir and Lantus have similar actions, they are not identical and may act differently in different individuals.

What is Levemir?

Levemir is a brand name for insulin detemir, a long-acting insulin analog that has a prolonged duration of action, meaning it helps control blood glucose levels for a longer period than regular human insulin. It achieves this by delaying its absorption and prolonging its action in the body. It was first approved by the FDA in 2005. As insulin detemir is not a short-acting insulin, it does not rapidly reduce blood glucose levels. Its slower onset and prolonged action mean that its side-effect profile is also different to that of short-acting insulins, particularly in that it provides a more stable and predictable pattern of glucose control, which can reduce the risk of hypoglycemia. The effects of insulin detemir can be beneficial for the treatment of diabetes, especially in patients who require a more consistent insulin level throughout the day and night, such as those using Lantus.

What conditions is Levemir approved to treat?

Levemir is a long-acting insulin analog that has been approved by the FDA for managing blood sugar levels in individuals with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The treatment regimen includes:

  • Type 1 Diabetes: Levemir can be used alongside other types of insulin or oral diabetic medications to achieve optimal blood glucose control.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: When diet, exercise, and oral medication alone do not suffice, Levemir can be used to help maintain better control over blood glucose levels.

How does Levemir help with these illnesses?

Insulin detemir, known by the brand name Levemir, is a long-acting insulin that plays an essential role in managing blood sugar levels and facilitates the entry of glucose into cells for energy production. It mimics the body's natural, basal release of insulin throughout the day and night to control fasting blood sugars between meals and overnight. Its slow-release mechanism allows it to be administered once or twice daily depending on patient needs.

Levemir operates by binding to albumin in subcutaneous tissue after injection which prolongs its duration of action and provides steady absorption rates. This can lead to more predictable effects compared with Lantus (insulin glargine), another long-acting insulin that precipitates within subcutaneous tissue resulting in somewhat less predictability.

While both are effective at lowering HbA1c levels, some patients may prefer Levemir due to individual variations such as lifestyle patterns, dietary habits or their response to other diabetes medications.

How effective are both Lantus and Levemir?

Both insulin glargine (Lantus) and insulin detemir (Levemir) are long-acting insulins with a well-established history of success in managing blood glucose levels for individuals with diabetes. They were approved by the FDA within a few years of each other, Lantus in 2000 and Levemir in 2005. Given their similar roles as basal insulins providing consistent coverage throughout the day, they may be prescribed interchangeably depending on individual patient needs.

Clinical studies comparing Lantus to Levemir have found them to have comparable efficacy in controlling blood glucose levels over a 24-hour period. Both drugs exhibit similar safety profiles as well, with hypoglycemia being the most common side effect noted for both.

A systematic review from 2008 that analyzed results from multiple studies reported no significant differences between Lantus and Levemir when it comes to overall glycemic control or rates of severe hypoglycemia. However, some data suggested that patients receiving Lantus might need slightly higher doses than those on Levemir due to its more consistent peakless profile.

Insulin detemir is usually dosed once or twice daily while insulin glargine is typically dosed once daily at bedtime because it maintains relatively stable concentrations over time without prominent peaks thus reducing the risk of nocturnal hypoglycemia.

While both insulins offer effective treatment options for patients requiring long-term diabetes management there can be individual variation based on patient's lifestyle, dietary habits and sensitivity to insulin which can influence choice between these two medicines.

abstract image of a researcher studying a bottle of drug.

At what dose is Lantus typically prescribed?

Injectable dosages of Lantus (insulin glargine) for adults with type 1 diabetes typically start at one-third to one-half of the total daily insulin dose, while the remainder should be a short-acting insulin. For patients with type 2 diabetes who are not currently treated with insulin, the starting dose could range from 0.2 units/kg or up to 10 units per day. The dosage may need adjustment based on individual metabolic needs, blood glucose monitoring results and glycemic control goal.

Similarly, Levemir (insulin detemir) can be started at a low dose in patients with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes and then adjusted as needed every few days based on blood sugar levels. Both insulins should never exceed doses that cause hypoglycemia - extremely low blood sugar levels - due to their long duration of action.

At what dose is Levemir typically prescribed?

Levemir treatment is typically started based on a patient's current insulin intake and blood sugar levels, with an initial dose often between 10-20 units per day. The dosage can then be adjusted to achieve optimal blood glucose control, and may be divided into two doses spaced approximately 12 hours apart if needed. Maximum dosage isn't firmly set; instead it's individualized to meet the needs of each patient under the guidance of their healthcare provider. It's important that adjustments are made carefully, as too rapid increases in dosage could lead to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Regular monitoring of blood glucose levels is necessary for patients undergoing Levemir treatment.

What are the most common side effects for Lantus?

Some of the common side effects when using Lantus include:

  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Allergic reactions, including itching and rash
  • Injection site reactions (pain, redness, swelling)
  • Weight gain
  • Swelling in your hands or feet
  • Back pain
  • Flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough and throat irritation

On the other hand, Levemir may cause similar side effects like hypoglycemia and weight gain but also can include:

  • Headache
  • Mild stomach pain
  • Thickening of the skin where you inject this medicine.

It's important to note that everyone responds differently to medication; therefore it's necessary to monitor any changes carefully while on these drugs.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Lantus?

While both Lantus and Levemir are long-acting insulins designed to help regulate blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, some patients may experience rare but serious side effects. These can include:

  • Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar: Symptoms include dizziness, confusion, shaking, sweating, fast heartbeat.
  • Serious allergic reactions: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue or throat.
  • Severe hypokalemia (low potassium in the body): symptoms such as muscle pain or weakness and irregular heart rate
  • Lipodystrophy at injection site: fat loss or thickening of the skin where insulin is frequently injected
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis (high ketones and acid in the blood), which could lead to hospitalization if not treated immediately: symptoms include feeling very thirsty or tired; heavy breathing; frequent urination; flushed skin.

If you notice any of these symptoms after using either Lantus or Levemir, it's important that you seek immediate medical attention.

What are the most common side effects for Levemir?

Levemir, a long-acting insulin used to control blood sugar levels in type 1 and type 2 diabetes, can potentially cause the following side effects:

  • Injection site reactions (pain, redness, or irritation)
  • Headaches
  • Weight gain
  • Thickening of the skin where you inject Levemir
  • Itching or rash over the whole body
  • Swelling of your hands and feet, lips, tongue or throat (signs of allergic reaction)

It's important to note that while these are potential side effects of Levemir, not everyone will experience them. Some people may have a very mild response while others may have more noticeable symptoms. As with any medication decision, it's crucial to discuss potential risks and benefits with your healthcare provider.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Levemir?

While Levemir is generally considered safe, some individuals may experience severe side effects. These include:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling in your face, lips, tongue or throat.
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels), which can cause symptoms such as headache, hunger, sweating, confusion, irritability or mood changes.
  • Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels) characterized by increased thirst and urination; dry mouth; fruity breath odor; drowsiness.
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Swelling in hands and feet
  • Shortness of breath
  • Severe pain in upper stomach spreading to back accompanied by vomiting

If you suspect that you have any of these symptoms while using Levemir insulin detemir injection therapy for diabetes control, immediately seek medical attention.

Contraindications for Lantus and Levemir?

Both Lantus and Levemir, along with most other insulin medications, may cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels) in some people. If you notice symptoms of hypoglycemia such as dizziness, shaking or sweating, please seek immediate medical attention.

Neither Lantus nor Levemir should be used if you are experiencing an episode of hypoglycemia or if you have a hypersensitivity to any part of the drug. Always inform your physician about all the medications that you are currently taking; this is essential because certain drugs can affect how insulin works which could lead to serious complications.

Before starting on either Lantus or Levemir, it's crucial that your doctor knows about any pre-existing liver or kidney conditions as these might require adjustments in dosages. Also bear in mind that while both drugs work similarly they aren't interchangeable due to differences in their duration and onset of action.

How much do Lantus and Levemir cost?

For the brand name versions of these insulin medications:

  • The price of 5 pens (3mL each) of Lantus averages around $300, which works out to approximately $20 per day, assuming a daily dose of 30 units.
  • The price for Levemir is about the same as Lantus. A pack containing 5 pens (3mL each) costs roughly $320 on average, working out to nearly $21/day with similar dosage assumptions.

Therefore, if you are in the higher dosage range for either Lantus or Levemir (i.e., more than 30 units/day), then both insulins have comparable cost on a per-day treatment basis. Please remember that cost should not be your primary consideration when choosing between these two therapies.

Currently there are no generic versions available for either Lantus (insulin glargine) or Levemir (insulin detemir). All forms and brands represent biologic drugs made using genetic engineering techniques and thus they cannot be exactly copied in the way traditional chemical drugs can be. Therefore, all current options will carry relatively high prices compared to many standard pharmaceuticals.

Popularity of Lantus and Levemir

Insulin glargine, available under the brand name Lantus, was estimated to have been prescribed to about 8.5 million people in the US in 2020. It accounted for just over 15% of long-acting insulin prescriptions in the US. Its popularity is likely due to its ability to provide steady sugar control with less risk of hypoglycemia and no pronounced peak effect.

On the other hand, insulin detemir or Levemir was used by approximately 2 million people during that same period. This accounts for around 4% of all long-acting insulin prescriptions in America. Its use has been relatively stable over time as it provides similar benefits as Lantus but may necessitate twice-daily dosing in some patients compared to once daily with Lantus.

Both insulins are considered essential medicines according to WHO’s List and they're both basal (long acting) insulins used primarily for type I diabetes but can be also used for type II diabetes when oral antidiabetic drugs fail or during pregnancy.


Both Lantus (insulin glargine) and Levemir (insulin detemir) are long-acting insulins used in the management of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, with proven efficacy through numerous clinical studies. These insulins can be used alone or combined with other types of insulin or oral antidiabetic drugs; physician guidance is key here as combining them incorrectly could lead to hypoglycemia.

Lantus has a slightly longer duration of action compared to Levemir, providing insulin activity for up to 24 hours while Levemir provides up to 22 hours on average. As such, Lantus is typically injected once daily at any time during the day while Levemir may require two injections per day depending upon individual patient needs.

In terms of cost-effectiveness, both are available in generic forms which can provide significant savings for patients especially those paying out-of-pocket. However, it's worth noting that prices may vary between pharmacies.

The side effect profiles of Lantus and Levemir are similar; they're generally well-tolerated but carry risks including weight gain and hypoglycemia. Patients using these medications should monitor their blood glucose levels frequently, particularly when initiating therapy or adjusting dosage.