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Levemir vs Lantus

With so many varieties of insulin available, it is not always easy to understand which is right for you. Your doctor will prescribe the most suitable insulin for your needs, but it is important to know the differences between those available. Take Levemir vs Lantus. They are both types of long-acting insulin that can be taken to help you manage your blood glucose levels, but they are not the same.

Here we unpick the key differences between Levemir and Lantus as well as detailing the similarities. We will also run through how they work, their side effects, their costs, and more.
 

Conditions treated by Levemir and Lantus

Levemir and Lantus are both long-acting insulins used to treat type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

They are both prescribed to adults with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. For children, Lantus is intended for use in those aged 6 years and over, for type 1 diabetes only. Levemir can be used for children aged 2 years and over for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Levemir

  • Type 1 and type 2 diabetes in adults
  • Type 1 and type 2 diabetes in children aged 2 years and over

Lantus

  • Type 1 and type 2 diabetes in adults
  • Type 1 diabetes in children aged 6 years and over

Injecting either Levemir or Lantus increases how much insulin you have in your blood. This allows your cells to absorb more glucose, lowering your blood glucose level.

Understanding insulin and long acting insulin

Insulin is a natural hormone found in your body, it is made by your pancreas. It helps your cells absorb glucose from your blood and makes sure you maintain a healthy blood glucose level. If you have diabetes you may not produce enough insulin, or it may not work as well as it should.

Synthetic (man-made) versions of insulin like Lantus and Levemir work in the same way as the insulin made by your pancreas – either by helping your cells absorb glucose or by storing excess glucose in your body, to be used later when your glucose levels drop. They differ from the insulin your body naturally produces, as they are often designed to be faster or longer-acting versions.

Fast-acting insulins are usually injected after a meal to help your body manage the glucose released as you digest the food and drink. Long-acting insulins are usually injected once every 24 hours to help your body maintain a healthy blood glucose level throughout the day and night. Long-acting and rapid-acting insulins are often used together.

Levemir and Lantus are both long-acting synthetic insulins. They can be active for up to 24 hours after injecting.

What is the difference between Lantus and Levemir?

Although they are both long-acting insulins that are used to treat diabetes, there are some important differences between Lantus and Levemir:

  • Both Levemir and Lantus can be used to treat type 1 and type 2 diabetes in adults. Lantus has only been approved to treat type 1 diabetes in children 6 years and over, but Levemir has been approved to treat both type 1 and type 2 diabetes in children aged 2 years and over.
  • Levemir and Lantus contain different types of insulin. Levemir contains insulin detemir and Lantus contains insulin glargine.
  • Both Lantus and Levemir can be injected once per day, but Levemir can also be injected twice per day, depending on how quickly your body uses it.
  • Both insulins can cause similar side effects. However, in research comparing them, Levemir was generally found to cause less weight gain. Lantus caused fewer reactions at the site of injection, whether itching, rashes, or skin thickening.
  • Lantus is generally cheaper than Levemir. A 10 ml vial of Levemir costs approximately $330, while a 10 ml vial of Lantus costs approximately $300.

The key differences and similarities of Levemir and Lantus are summarized in the table below:

Brand name: Levemir Lantus
Manufacturer: Novo Nordisk Sanofi
Active ingredient: Insulin detemir Insulin glargine
Indication: Type 1 and type 2 diabetes in adults
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes in children aged two years and over
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes in adults
Type 1 diabetes in children aged six years and over
Frequency of injection Once or twice per day Once per day
Duration of action: Up to 24 hours Up to 24 hours
Injection method: Levemir FlexTouch Pen or a syringe Lantus SoloStar Pen or a syringe
Average cost per 10ml vial: $330 $300

How effective is Levemir vs Lantus?

Independent research has shown that Levemir and Lantus are equally effective at controlling blood glucose levels.

A review of scientific studies directly comparing the effectiveness of Lantus vs Levemir found the two insulins were equally effective at lowering insulin levels during the day and night. The only differences found between the two insulins were the degree of some of the side effects they cause:

  • Levemir was generally found to cause less weight gain than Lantus
  • Lantus caused fewer reactions at the site of injection than Levemir

Levemir vs Lantus side effects

The side effects caused by Levemir and Lantus were found to be similar in clinical trials. The most common include:

Levemir

  • Reactions at the site of injection –  itching, rashes, skin thickening, or pits forming in your skin (lipodystrophy)
  • Allergic reactions
  • Weight gain (less than Lantus)
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)

Lantus

  • Reactions at the site of injection – itching, rashes, skin thickening, or pits forming in your skin (lipodystrophy)
  • Allergic reactions
  • Weight gain
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)

In rarer instances Levemir and Lantus can cause more serious side effects, including:

Levemir

  • Heart failure (more likely if used alongside a thiazolidinedione diabetes medication)
  • Severe allergic reactions to the medication that can cause anaphylaxis
  • Your blood sugar falling too low to dangerous levels (hypoglycemia)
  • Low potassium levels in your blood (hypokalemia)

Lantus

  • Heart failure (more likely if used alongside a thiazolidinedione diabetes medication)
  • Severe allergic reactions to the medication that can cause anaphylaxis
  • Your blood sugar falling too low to dangerous levels (hypoglycemia)
  • Low potassium levels in your blood (hypokalemia)

Levemir vs Lantus drug interactions

If you take Levemir or Lantus, you should avoid the following medications or talk to your doctor about taking them alongside your insulin. They could potentially change how your insulin works and make some side effects more likely:

Levemir

  • Thiazolidinedione medications (TZDs), taken to treat diabetes
  • Any other diabetes medications
  • Beta-blockers, taken to treat high blood pressure
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, taken to treat high blood pressure and certain heart conditions
  • Guanethidine and reserpine, taken to treat high blood pressure
  • Diuretics, taken to make you lose water and salt, usually taken to treat high blood pressure
  • Clonidine, taken to treat a range of conditions including high blood pressure, ADHD, drug withdrawal, menopausal flushing, and certain pain conditions
  • Fibrates, taken to lower blood triglyceride levels
  • Protease inhibitors, taken for HIV/AIDS
  • Alcohol or any medications that contain alcohol
  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers, taken to treat high blood pressure, diabetic kidney damage, and heart failure
  • Beta 2-stimulants, taken to treat asthma
  • Antidepressants, including monoamine oxidase inhibitors and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
  • Any atypical antipsychotic medications
  • Disopyramide, taken to treat heart rhythm problems
  • Pentamidine, an antimicrobial medication
  • Sulfonamide antibiotics
  • Thyroid hormones, taken to treat thyroid gland disorders

Lantus

  • Thiazolidinedione medications (TZDs), taken to treat diabetes
  • Any other diabetes medications
  • Beta-blockers, taken to treat high blood pressure
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, taken to treat high blood pressure and certain heart conditions
  • Guanethidine and reserpine, taken to treat high blood pressure
  • Diuretics, taken to make you lose water and salt, usually taken to treat high blood pressure
  • Clonidine, taken to treat a range of conditions including high blood pressure, ADHD, drug withdrawal, menopausal flushing, and certain pain conditions
  • Fibrates, taken to lower blood triglyceride levels
  • Protease inhibitors, taken for HIV/AIDS

Levemir vs Lantus warnings

Levemir and Lantus both carry similar warnings. You should not use them if you:

Levemir

  • Are allergic to the active ingredient insulin detemir
  • Are allergic to any of the other ingredients in Levemir
  • Are under 2 years of age for type 2 diabetes
  • Are under 2 years of age for type 1 diabetes
  • Are in a state of diabetic ketoacidosis – a condition where high blood sugar causes high levels of ketones to build up in your body

Lantus

  • Are allergic to the active ingredient insulin glargine
  • Are allergic to any of the other ingredients in Lantus
  • Are under 18 years of age for type 2 diabetes
  • Are under 6 years of age for type 1 diabetes
  • Are in a state of diabetic ketoacidosis – a condition where high blood sugar causes high levels of ketones to build up in your body

You should talk to your doctor before using Levemir or Lantus if you:

Levemir

  • Are taking any of the medications that could interact with Levemir
  • Have any liver or kidney problems
  • Have low levels of potassium in your blood
  • Are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant
  • Are breastfeeding or are planning to breastfeed
  • Are over 65 years of age

Lantus

  • Are taking any of the medications that could interact with Lantus
  • Have any liver or kidney problems
  • Have low levels of potassium in your blood
  • Are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant
  • Are breastfeeding or are planning to breastfeed
  • Are over 65 years of age

Levemir and Lantus cost comparison

Lantus and Levemir can both be bought as vials of insulin to be used with a syringe, or as cartridges of insulin to be used in a self-injecting pen device.

Without insurance, the cost of Levemir and Lantus can vary by retailer. It will also depend on the amount you buy and if you buy vials or cartridges. Based on average prices for a comparable amount of Levemir and Lantus, Lantus is generally cheaper than Levemir:

  • A 10ml vial of Levemir costs approximately $330
  • A 10ml vial of Lantus costs approximately $300

If you have insurance the cost of either medication will depend on the details of your healthcare plan. To calculate your copay with your current insurance, contact your pharmacist or insurance provider.

Levemir vs Lantus FAQs

Is Levemir the same as Lantus?

Levemir and Lantus are both long-acting insulins prescribed to treat type 1 and type 2 diabetes. They can help you manage your blood sugar level over the course of a day, but they are not the same. The two insulins contain different active ingredients. Levemir contains insulin detemir and Lantus contains insulin glargine. This means that they may affect you differently.

Are Levemir and Lantus interchangeable?

Lantus and Levemir are both long-acting insulins that work in similar ways. They are different however, and are not interchangeable. If your doctor has prescribed either Levemir or Lantus to you, you should take the one prescribed and not substitute one for the other.

Is dosing the same for Lantus and Levemir?

Dosing can be different for Lantus and Levemir. Lantus is usually injected once per day. Levemir can be injected once or twice per day. The doctor who prescribes your insulin to you will tell you what dose to take and when. It is important to always take your insulin as directed by your doctor.

Can you take Lantus and Levemir together?

You should not take Lantus and Levemir together. Some insulins can be used together – this is the case for rapid-acting insulin and long-lasting insulin for example. As Lantus and Levemir are both similar long-acting insulins that have a comparable effect on you, using them together increases the risk of an overdose and side effects.

What insulin is comparable to Levemir?

Levemir is a long-acting insulin. Other long-acting insulins include Lantus, Basaglar, Toujeo, and Tresiba.

What insulin can replace Lantus?

Lantus is a long-acting insulin. Other similar long-acting insulins include Levemir, Basaglar, Toujeo, and Tresiba. You should not try to replace your Lantus yourself. Talk to your doctor if you are interested in trying different long-acting insulins to Lantus.

Whilst both Levemir and Lantus are similar long-acting insulins used to treat type 1 and type 2 diabetes, there are differences between them. If your doctor has prescribed either of the medications to you, that is the one you should take.

If you have been prescribed Lantus or Levemir, you may be eligible to receive your medication through a patient assistance program. At NiceRx, we help eligible individuals to enroll in patient assistance programs for prescription medications. With our help you could get your Lantus or Levemir prescription for a flat fee of $49 per month. Complete our online enrollment application to find out if you are eligible for assistance.

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