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Basaglar vs Levemir

Drug facts and comparison

✅
Medically reviewed by  Jamie Winn, PharmD

Uses

  • Type 1 and type 2 diabetes in adults
  • Type 1 diabetes in children aged six years and over
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$49 per month
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  • Type 1 and type 2 diabetes in adults.
  • Type 1 and type 2 diabetes in children aged two years and over
Get Levemir for only
$49 per month
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Summary

Brand name: Basaglar
Brand name: Levemir
Manufacturer: Eli Lilly
Manufacturer: Novo Nordisk
Active ingredient: insulin glargine
Active ingredient: insulin detemir
Indication: Type 1 and type 2 diabetes in adults. Type 1 diabetes in children aged six years and over
Indication: Type 1 and type 2 diabetes in adults. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes in children aged two years and over
Frequency of injection: Once per day
Frequency of injection: Once or twice per day
Duration of action: Once per day
Duration of action: Once or twice per day
Injection method: Subcutaneous
Injection method: Levemir FlexTouch Pen or a syringe
Average cost per 300 unit Pen: $65.00
Average cost per 10ml, 100 unit vial: $330

Side Effects

Most common

  • 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)

More serious

  • 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)

Most common

  • 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)

More serious

  • 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)

Drug Interactions

Severe interactions
  • Antibiotics for bacterial infections such as ciprofloxacin, enoxacin, norfloxacin, and ofloxacin
Serious interactions
  • Thiazolidinedione medications (TZDs) such as pioglitazone and rosiglitazone, taken to treat diabetes
  • Any other diabetes medications – metformin, glipizide
  • Beta-blockers, taken to treat high blood pressure – propranolol, sotalol
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, taken to treat high blood pressure and certain heart conditions – captopril, enalapril
  • Guanethidine and reserpine, taken to treat high blood pressure
  • Diuretics, taken to make you lose water and salt, usually to treat high blood pressure – bumetanide, furosemide
  • Clonidine, taken to treat a range of conditions including high blood pressure
  • Corticosteroids such as cortisone and prednisolone
  • Fenofibrate, taken to lower blood triglyceride levels
  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers, taken to treat high blood pressure, diabetic kidney damage, and heart failure – candesartan, losartan, valsartan
  • Beta 2-stimulants, taken to treat asthma – salmeterol
  • Antidepressants, including monoamine oxidase inhibitors and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors – phenelzine, selegiline, sertraline
  • Disopyramide, taken to treat heart rhythm problems
  • Estrogen containing drugs including birth control and hormone replacements
Moderate interactions
  • Steroids used topically (on the skin) such as betamethasone, clobetasol, hydrocortisone, and mometasone
  • Diltiazem, used for the treatment of high blood pressure
1 Severe Interaction
  • Antibiotics for bacterial infections such as ciprofloxacin, enoxacin, norfloxacin, and ofloxacin
14 Serious interactions
  • Thiazolidinedione medications (TZDs) such as pioglitazone and rosiglitazone, taken to treat diabetes
  • Any other diabetes medications – metformin, glipizide
  • Beta-blockers, taken to treat high blood pressure – propranolol, sotalol
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, taken to treat high blood pressure and certain heart conditions – captopril, enalapril
  • Guanethidine and reserpine, taken to treat high blood pressure
  • Diuretics, taken to make you lose water and salt, usually to treat high blood pressure – bumetanide, furosemide
  • Clonidine, taken to treat a range of conditions including high blood pressure
  • Corticosteroids such as cortisone and prednisolone
  • Fenofibrate, taken to lower blood triglyceride levels
  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers, taken to treat high blood pressure, diabetic kidney damage, and heart failure – candesartan, losartan, valsartan
  • Beta 2-stimulants, taken to treat asthma – salmeterol
  • Antidepressants, including monoamine oxidase inhibitors and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors – phenelzine, selegiline, sertraline
  • Disopyramide, taken to treat heart rhythm problems
  • Estrogen containing drugs including birth control and hormone replacements
2 Moderate Interactions
  • Steroids used topically (on the skin) such as betamethasone, clobetasol, hydrocortisone, and mometasone
  • Diltiazem, used for the treatment of high blood pressure

Warnings

You should not use Basaglar if you:

  • Are allergic to the active ingredient insulin glargine
  • Are allergic to any of the other ingredients in Basaglar
  • Are under 18 years of age for type 2 diabetes
  • Are under six years of age for type 1 diabetes
  • Have 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 Basaglar if you:

  • Are taking any of the medications that could interact with Basaglar
  • Have any heart problems
  • Have any have 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

You should not use Levemir if you:

  • 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

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

  • 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

Dosage

Once per day

Once or twice per day

Cost

5, 300 unit Basaglar KwikPen self-injecting pens costs around $326

A 10ml, 100 unit vial of Levemir costs approximately $330

FAQs

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved drugs Basaglar and Levemir are both types of long-acting insulin that can be taken to manage blood sugar control, but they are not the same. Your doctor will prescribe the most suitable insulin product for your needs, but it is important to know the differences between those available.

Here we unpick the key differences between Basaglar and Levemir as well as detail the similarities.

Understanding insulin

The most important hormone to understand in diabetes is insulin. It is made in your pancreas which is located just behind your stomach.

Without getting too medical, insulin travels in your blood through your body. It opens up cells in your body so that glucose can enter them. After glucose enters cells, the cells immediately use it for energy in the form of glycogen or convert it to fat for use later. When glucose leaves your blood and enters cells, your blood glucose level falls. Your pancreas detects your glucose falling and turns off the release of insulin. This stops your blood sugar from going too low (hypoglycemia). At the same time, your liver begins to make more glucose in your blood.

This system in the body helps to keep the level of glucose balanced. Insulin is the only means that the body has of lowering blood glucose levels. When this system fails diabetes occurs.

There are different types of insulin but the basic difference is in how quickly they take effect, so they can be divided into:

  • Fast-acting – Apidra, Humalog (insulin lispro), and Novolog (insulin aspart), begin to work about 15 minutes after injection
  • Short-acting  (regular) – Humulin R and Novolin R work within 30 minutes after injection
  • Intermediate-acting – Humulin N and Novolin N generally work two to four hours after injection known as NPH insulin.
  • Long-acting –Basaglar and Levemir fall into this category alongside Lantus, Lantus Solostar, Tresiba (insulin degludec) and Toujeo
  • Premixed insulins – Novolog 70/30 contains a combination of intermediate-acting insulin with regular insulin

What is Basaglar?

Basaglar is the brand name of a long-acting human insulin analog manufactured by Eli Lilly to reduce high blood sugar levels. It’s prescribed to:

  • Adults with type 1 or type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Children aged 6 or over with type 1 diabetes

What is Levemir?

Levemir is a prescription medication manufactured by Novo Nordisk for:

  • Adults with type 1 or type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Children ages 2 years and older with type 1 diabetes

Basaglar and Levemir should not be used to treat diabetic ketoacidosis.

How do Basaglar and Levemir work?

The active ingredient in Basaglar is called insulin glargine and the active ingredient in Levemir is called insulin detemir. Glargine and detemir are a type of synthetic (man-made) insulin that are similar to the insulin your body makes naturally. One of the main differences is that it has been designed to be longer acting than natural insulin, so it works over a longer time period.

When you inject Basaglar or Levemir under your skin their active ingredients are released into your bloodstream. As it travels around your body and attaches itself to cells it causes your cells to release a substance that helps them absorb sugar from your blood. Insulin glargine and insulin detemir can keep working for up to 24 hours, covering your insulin needs for up to a day.

Long-acting insulins also called background insulin or basal insulin are usually injected once every 24 hours to help your body maintain a healthy blood glucose level throughout the day and night. They were invented to provide a smooth, basal level of control ideally requiring only one injection a day. They can act differently in different people looking more like intermediate insulin in some patients. Long-acting and short-acting/rapid-acting insulins are often used together due to the differences in duration of action.

How do you administer Basaglar and Levemir?

Your dose of Basaglar or Levemir should be administered by subcutaneous injection in the abdomen, thigh, or deltoid. The insulin injection sites should be rotated to prevent small fatty lumps or hard lumps from forming in areas that are continuously used as injection sites. These can interfere with insulin absorption and also cause discomfort. Switching between injecting sites will help prevent problems. Injection site reactions tend to be pain, redness, itchiness, or swelling around the area of your injection.

Basaglar and Levemir both come in a disposable, prefilled pen formulation. Basaglar comes as a KwikPen and a Tempo Pen. Levemir comes as a FlexTouch pen.

These pens contain the following amounts of insulin:

  • Basaglar KwikPen: 3 milliliters (mL) of the solution containing 300 units of insulin glargine
  • Basaglar Tempo Pen: 3 mL of a solution containing 300 units of insulin glargine (the Tempo pen can connect with a smartphone app to track your insulin doses)
  • Levemir FlexTouch: 3 mL of a solution containing 300 units of insulin detemir

Levemir also comes in a vial, which holds 10 mL of drug solution. Each vial contains 1,000 units of insulin detemir. You shouldn’t use either drug with an insulin pump.

Basaglar is a once-daily dose and Levemir is taken once or twice daily. Your starting dose and dosing regime are determined by your healthcare professional. Doses must be individualized based on clinical response and blood glucose monitoring is essential in all patients receiving insulin therapy.

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 Basaglar and Levemir:

  • Both Levemir and Basaglar can be used to treat type 1 and type 2 diabetes in adults. Basaglar 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 Basaglar contain different types of insulin. Levemir contains insulin detemir and Basaglar contains insulin glargine
  • They are manufactured by different pharmaceutical companies. Basaglar is made by Eli Lilly and Levemir is made by Novo Nordisk
  • Both Basaglar 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 fewer episodes of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) than insulin glargine

Side effects of Basaglar and Levemir

The most common side effects seen with Basaglar and Levemir are the following:

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

In rare instances, Basaglar and Levemir can cause more serious side effects. These may include:

  • Severe allergic reactions to the medication
  • Heart failure
  • Your blood sugar falling to dangerously low levels (hypoglycemia)
  • Low potassium levels in your blood (hypokalemia)

Drug interactions of Basaglar and Levemir

The following medications are some that interact with Basaglar and Levemir:

  • Thiazolidinedione (TZD), 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
  • Sulfonamide antibiotics
  • Fibrates, taken to lower blood triglyceride levels
  • Corticosteroids such as cortisone
  • Protease inhibitors, taken for HIV/AIDS
  • Diuretics, taken to make you urinate more
  • Thyroid hormones, taken to treat thyroid gland disorders
  • Pentamidine, an antimicrobial medication

There are many types of insulin but factors such as the severity of your diabetes, your lifestyle, diet, and other medical conditions can influence which is best for you. Talking to your healthcare provider is important to help them understand how well Basaglar or Levemir are working for you and to allow any drug interactions to be identified. Give your healthcare provider a complete list of all the prescription drugs, including over-the-counter meds, supplements, and medical conditions you may have, and always seek their medical advice if you are experiencing side effects or if your blood sugar levels are not under control.

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The content on this website is intended for information purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice. The information on this website should not be relied upon and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always speak to your doctor regarding the risks and benefits of any treatment.
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