Which is Better, Lantus or Levemir? Duel of the New Long-Acting Insulins

Dr. Sharon Orrange
Dr. Orrange is an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of Geriatric, Hospitalist and General Internal Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
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Diabetes care has gotten better. Two new long acting insulins are taking over NPH insulin. They are more expensive, and many of you ask: which is better, Lantus or Levemir insulin?

Here is the story of the new long-acting insulins. For adult onset (Type II) diabetics who have been on maximum doses of diabetes pills yet need better blood sugar control, your doctor may turn to insulin. When insulin is combined with oral agents, a basal (long-acting) insulin used at night is a reasonable first choice.

In the past, intermediate-acting NPH insulin was used at bedtime to supplement pills for diabetes. Now, longer acting insulins, such as insulin glargine (Lantus) and insulin detemir (Levemir) are more tempting options, though you will pay more for them.

Why do we like Lantus and Levemir over NPH insulin? There is less risk for low blood sugars and they are effective in reducing Hgb AIC values. The lower risk for low blood sugars is because there is no “peak” in effect but rather a constant delivery. This is important.

Which one is better Lantus or Levemir? You decide.

First, your insurance plan will usually cover one or the other but not both. You might base your decision on which one is cheaper for you.

Twice daily dosing of Levemir (insulin detemir) is often required whereas once daily dosing is usually all that is needed for Lantus (insulin glargine). If you are someone who has had problems with low sugars on NPH insulin at bedtime, switching to a nighttime dose of Lantus (insulin glargine) may be your best bet.

Dr O.

A package of 5 pens will run around $230 for both Lantus and Levemir. When they are covered by insurance, both insulin options vary between tiers 2 or 3; it’s best to check your individual plan for coverage and pricing.

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