Two Insulins, Two Blood Sugar Fixes

Type 2 diabetes patients taking insulin degludec or glargine had similar blood sugar control

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) Some patients with type 2 diabetes need insulin treatment to get their blood sugar under control. There are a number of insulin treatment options. So, how do these options compare against each other?

Recent findings suggested that two different types of insulin given once daily led to similar long-term blood sugar control in patients with type 2 diabetes.

"Seek treatment if your diabetes is out of control."

In their study, Chantal Mathieu, MD, of the University of Leuven in Belgium, and colleagues compared the safety and effectiveness of insulin degludec to that of insulin glargine.

Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that removes excess sugar from the blood. While insulin treatment is usually reserved for patients with type 1 diabetes, some patients with type 2 diabetes need insulin treatment in addition to their oral drugs to lower their blood sugar levels.

Dr. Mathieu and colleagues found that type 2 diabetes patients taking either insulin degludec or insulin glargine in combination with oral antidiabetic drugs had similar reductions in levels of HbA1c (a measure of blood sugar over time).

A similar amount of patients in both groups reached HbA1c levels of less than 7 percent (the recommended blood sugar target for diabetes patients).

Patients taking insulin degludec had a lower risk of nocturnal hypoglycemia, or dangerously low blood sugar during the night.

Insulin degludec is an ultra long-acting insulin treatment. Generally, degludec is taken about three times a week. Insulin glargine is a long-acting insulin given once a day.

Results of the study showed that degludec lowered HbA1c levels by about 1.06 percent while glargine lowered HbA1c by about 1.19 percent.

Overall rates of low blood sugar were about the same for patients taking degludec as for those taking glargine. More specifically, patients taking degludec had 1.52 episodes of low blood sugar per patient-year versus 1.85 episodes per patient-year for patients taking glargine.

These findings suggest that both insulins degludec and glargine given once daily can improve long-term blood sugar control for patients with type 2 diabetes already taking oral diabetes drugs.

The study - which included 1,030 participants - was published October 5 in Diabetes Care, a journal of the American Diabetes Association.

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Review Date: 
October 10, 2012
Last Updated:
October 14, 2012