Insulin Glargine

Written by Corie Richter, PA

Insulin is a diabetes medication that can be used by people with either type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes. There are a number of insulin products on the market now and while they all attempt to control blood glucose levels, their success as medications depends on whether a person has type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes vs. Type 2 Diabetes
To understand the different insulins and how they work differently, you may first need a quick primer in the differences between type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. (If you don't need a quick primer, feel free to skip on down!)

People with type 1 diabetes have little or no insulin production in the pancreas, and so they need to inject insulin into their bodies in order to effectively process glucose.

People with type 2 diabetes have sluggish or inadequate production of the insulin hormone. Their bodies may not be able to use insulin as well as they should; this is called insulin resistance.

Some people with type 2 diabetes may eventually need insulin. But some people can manage their diabetes with diet, exercise, and other diabetes medications. Those medications can, for example, help the body use insulin better.

An Insulin for Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes
One type of insulin, glargine, has become popular with people with type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. The brand name for glargine is Lantus.

Glargine is a long-acting insulin, and it's used in people with type 2 diabetes who need help with that longer-term control—that is, the basal rate. (The basal insulin rate is the steady flow of insulin that someone with a healthy, normal pancreas function produces. You can think of it as a constant yet low-level stream of insulin that helps keep your body functioning properly.)

You have to give yourself an injection of glargine once a day.

Over time, your doctor may adjust the dose up or down. This will also depend on other medications you take (especially for people with type 2 diabetes who may be taking other diabetes medications), which may have an effect on insulin glargine.

An important point about this particular type of insulin is that unlike others, this is never to be mixed with any medication in the same syringe. It need not be shaken, but it does require refrigeration. Like all insulins, it should be taken at approximately the same time every day.

Insulin Glargine Concern
In 2009, there were some studies that came out saying that this type of insulin—glargine—increased the risk of cancer in people with diabetes. At that time, the FDA suggested people with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes using glargine continue to use it—and that they most definitely don't stop using the insulin without consulting with their doctor.

The FDA continues to investigate this issue, but for now, rest assured that you can take this type of insulin for type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes.