Levemir (insulin detemir) and Lantus (insulin glargine) are brand-name prescription medications. They’re approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat high blood sugar levels in certain people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

In this article, we review the main similarities and differences between Levemir and Lantus. If you’re considering taking one of these medications, be sure to talk with your doctor. Discussing this information with them can help you determine whether Levemir or Lantus may be better for you than the other.

Note: For more comprehensive information about these two drugs, you can refer to our Levemir and Lantus articles.

Key differences between Levemir and Lantus

Levemir and Lantus are very similar, but they do have a few differences. These are a few of the main distinctions between them:

  • There’s a biosimilar available for Lantus, but not for Levemir. A biosimilar is a drug that’s similar to a certain brand-name medication and tends to cost less. (See “Cost of Levemir vs. Lantus ” below.)
  • For some people, the recommended starting dosage for treating type 1 diabetes may be lower with Levemir than Lantus. (See “Dosages, forms, and administration” below.)

Switching between Levemir and Lantus is possible. However, this does not mean the two drugs are interchangeable. Your doctor can provide information about how they’ll calculate a dose conversion if they switch you from one drug to the other.

If you’d like to know more about switching between Levemir and Lantus, talk with your doctor. They can give you additional details and help determine the best course of action for your personal situation. Even if two drugs treat the same condition or are in the same drug class, your body can still respond differently. It’s important that you do not stop, start, or switch any of your drug treatments without your doctor’s recommendation.

Here’s a quick look at the dosage and administration for Levemir and Lantus for treating type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Milliliters are abbreviated as “mL.”

Dosage for type 1 diabetes

Levemir for type 1 diabetesLantus for type 1 diabetes
Formsall forms are used to give doses by subcutaneous injection:
• FlexTouch prefilled pen
• multiple-dose vial
all forms are used to give doses by subcutaneous injection:
• SoloStar prefilled pen
• multiple-dose vial
Strength100 units per mL100 units per mL
Doseabout 1/3 of your total daily insulin requirementabout 1/3 to 1/2 of your total daily insulin requirement
Frequencyonce or twice per dayonce per day
Given byself (see below)self (see below)

Most people with type 1 diabetes require about 0.5 to 1 units of insulin per kilogram (kg) of body weight per day. (1 kg equals about 2.2. pounds.) You’ll likely also be prescribed another insulin besides Lantus or Levemir that you’ll take with meals. Your doctor can tell you more about your daily insulin requirement and how they’ll use this to calculate your Lantus or Levemir dosage. Your dose may be adjusted over time based on your blood sugar levels.

Your doctor or another healthcare professional will train you on how to give yourself injections at home.

You may inject Lantus or Levemir in certain areas of your stomach, upper arm, or thigh.

Dosage for type 2 diabetes

Levemir for type 2 diabetesLantus for type 2 diabetes
Formsall forms are used to give doses by subcutaneous injection:
• FlexTouch prefilled pen
• multiple-dose vial
all forms are used to give doses by subcutaneous injection:
• SoloStar prefilled pen
• multiple-dose vial
Strength100 units per mL100 units per mL
Suggested starting dose0.2 units/kg, up to 10 units per day, which may be adjusted over time based on your blood sugar levels0.2 units/kg, up to 10 units per day, which may be adjusted over time based on your blood sugar levels
Maintenance dosevaries by personvaries by person
Frequencyonce or twice per dayonce per day
Given byself (see below)self (see below)

Your doctor or another healthcare professional will train you on how to give yourself injections at home.

You may inject Lantus or Levemir in certain areas of your stomach, upper arm, or thigh.

Note: For more information about dosage, see our dosage articles about Levemir and Lantus.

Below are answers to some common questions about Levemir and Lantus.

What’s the duration of action of Levemir and Lantus?

The duration of action of Levemir and Lantus is about 24 hours. A drug’s duration of action refers to how long it works in your body.

If you’d like to know more about the duration of action for these medications, your doctor or pharmacist can help.

Are Levemir and Lantus safe to use during pregnancy?

It’s believed so. According to the American Diabetes Association, insulin treatments (such as Levemir and Lantus) are the preferred choice for treating diabetes in pregnant people.

If you’re pregnant or considering becoming pregnant, talk with your doctor. They can review the risks and benefits of different diabetes treatments for you during pregnancy.

How do Levemir and Lantus compare with Tresiba and Basaglar?

Levemir, Lantus, insulin degludec (Tresiba), and insulin glargine (Basaglar) are all drugs prescribed to help manage blood sugar levels in diabetes.

The four medications are approved to treat type 1 in adults and certain children.

One of the biggest differences among these drugs is that Basaglar is approved to treat type 2 diabetes only in adults. Levemir, Lantus, and Tresiba are approved to treat type 2 diabetes in adults and certain children.

All four drugs are also long-acting insulins given as subcutaneous injections. Long-acting insulin helps manage blood sugar for about 24 hours.

For details about the drugs’ forms and other ways the medications are alike and different, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

How much Levemir or Lantus costs depends on the treatment plan your doctor prescribes, your insurance plan, and your pharmacy. You can visit Optum Perks for price estimates of Levemir and Lantus.

In addition, you’ll need to purchase needles and syringes to use the multiple-dose vial form of Levemir or Lantus. You’ll need to purchase needles to use Lantus SoloStar or Levemir FlexTouch prefilled pens.

Both Levemir and Lantus are brand-name drugs. There’s a biosimilar available for Lantus, but not for Levemir. A biosimilar medicationis a medication that’s similar to a brand-name biologic medication (also called the parent drug).

Biologics are medications made from living cells. It’s not possible to copy these medications exactly. A generic, on the other hand, refers to drugs made from chemicals. A generic is an exact copy of the active drug in a brand-name medication.

Biosimilars are considered to be just as safe and effective as their parent medication. And biosimilars tend to cost less than brand-name medications.

Levemir and Lantus are both insulins used to treat diabetes. These drugs can cause mostly the same side effects. Some of the side effects reported for these drugs are mentioned below.

For more information about side effects of the two drugs, see our side effect articles about Levemir and Lantus. You can also refer to the Levemir prescribing information and Lantus prescribing information.

Mild side effects

The following table lists some of the more commonly reported mild side effects of Levemir and Lantus. The table may also include mild side effects that are less common but that you might have concerns about in some cases.

Mild side effectsLevemirLantus
mild hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)xx
injection site reactions, such as pain or itchinessxx
lipodystrophy (changes in skin thickness near the injection site)xx
weight gainxx
edema (fluid retention)xx
skin rashxx
itchy skinxx
upper respiratory infection, such as the common coldxx
other infections, such as urinary tract infectionxx
mild allergic reaction*xx

These side effects may be temporary, lasting a few days to weeks. If the side effects last longer than that, bother you, or become severe, be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious side effects

The following table lists reported serious side effects of Levemir and Lantus.

Serious side effectsLevemirLantus
severe hypoglycemiaxx
hypokalemia (low blood potassium level)xx
severe allergic reaction†xx

If you have serious side effects while using Levemir or Lantus, call your doctor immediately. If the side effects feel life threatening or you believe you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number right away.

Here’s information about the generic and biosimilar status for Levemir and Lantus, as well as details about their active ingredients.

LevemirLantus
Biosimilar availablenoyes
Active ingredientinsulin detemirinsulin glargine
Drug classlong-acting insulinlong-acting insulin

The biosimilar for Lantus is called Rezvoglar. A biosimilar medicationis a drug that’s similar to a brand-name biologic medication (also called the parent drug).

Biologics are medications made from living cells. It’s not possible to copy these medications exactly. A generic, on the other hand, refers to drugs made from chemicals. A generic is an exact copy of the active drug in a brand-name medication.

Biosimilars are considered to be just as safe and effective as their parent medication. And biosimilars tend to cost less than brand-name medications.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Levemir and Lantus to treat high blood sugar levels in adults with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

Levemir or Lantus and children

Levemir is approved to treat high blood sugar levels in children ages 2 years and older with type 1 diabetes.

Lantus is approved to treat high blood sugar levels in children ages 6 years and older with type 1 diabetes.

Neither Levemir nor Lantus have not been studied in children with type 2 diabetes.

Note: For more information about the drugs’ uses, see our articles about Levemir and Lantus.

If you have diabetes and are considering treatment with Levemir or Lantus, you may be wondering which is better. This information is reviewed in more detail below.

Reviews of studies. Here’s a brief look at whether studies comparing Levemir and Lantus found either drug to be more effective for helping treat diabetes.

  • A review of studies looked at how well insulin detemir (the active drug in Levemir) and insulin glargine (the active drug in Lantus) treat type 2 diabetes. The results showed that the two drugs were similarly effective for managing blood sugar levels. The researchers found that a higher dose of insulin detemir was needed to achieve the same blood sugar-lowering results as with insulin glargine.
  • A similar review of studies in people with type 1 diabetes found almost the same results. Both insulin detemir and insulin glargine were similarly effective for treating high blood sugar levels.

It’s important to point out that studies and reviews of studies may not apply to your individual health situation. Be sure to talk with your doctor to see if Levemir or Lantus may be right for you.

Prescribing information. For information about how these drugs performed in clinical trials, see the prescribing information for Levemir and Lantus. Keep in mind that trial results may not apply to your individual health situation.

Treatment guidelines. Another way to see whether a drug is considered effective is to look at treatment guidelines.

When an organization includes certain drugs in treatment guidelines, this means that research has shown the drug to be safe and effective. Both Levemir and Lantus are recommended as treatment options for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes in guidelines from the American Diabetes Association.

Your doctor can review the risks and benefits of different diabetes treatments with you. This can help determine if Levemir or Lantus may be beneficial.

Levemir and Lantus may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. The two drugs share some of the same precautions, but they also have different ones. Some of these precautions are mentioned below.

If any of the following medical conditions or other health factors are relevant to you, talk with your doctor before using Levemir or Lantus.

PrecautionLevemirLantus
if you’ve had an allergic reaction to either the drug or any of its ingredientsxx
if you have hypokalemia (low blood potassium level)xx
if you have heart failure and take a type of diabetes medication called a thiazolidinedione, such as pioglitazone (Actos)xx
if you have liver problemsxx
if you have kidney problemsxx

Note: For more comprehensive information about these two drugs, you can refer to our Levemir and Lantus articles.

Some key points to remember when comparing Levemir and Lantus include the following:

  • Levemir’s typical starting dosage for type 1 diabetes may be lower than the starting dosage for Lantus.
  • Levemir doesn’t have a biosimilar version but Lantus does. A biosimilar is a medication that’s similar to a certain brand-name drug and often tends to cost less.

If you’d like to learn more about Levemir or Lantus, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can help answer any questions you have about similarities and differences between the drugs. They can also help determine if one drug or the other might work well for you.

Note: For more information about your condition, see our diabetes hub.

Disclaimer: Medical News Today has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.