Levemir vs Lantus 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. Your doctor will prescribe the most suitable insulin for your needs, but it is important to know the differences between those available.
Here we unpick the key differences between Levemir and Lantus as well as detail the similarities.
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.
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 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.
If you’re approved for Lantus or Levemir assistance through NiceRx, you could get your prescription for only $49 per month. We may be able to help you even if you have insurance. Fill in our online enrollment application to find out more.