Insulin detemir subcutaneous
- Drugs List
- Therapeutic Indications
- Precautions and Warnings
- Pregnancy and Lactation
- Side Effects
Solution for injection containing insulin detemir
Treatment of diabetes mellitus.
Insulin detemir is used as a basal insulin, alone or in combination with a short or rapid acting (meal related) insulin.
It may also be used in combination with oral antidiabetic medicinal products and/or GLP-1 receptor agonists.
The desired blood glucose levels, the insulin preparations to be used and the insulin dosage (doses and timings) must be determined individually and adjusted to suit the patient's diet, physical activity and life-style.
Insulin detemir is an insulin analogue with a prolonged duration of action. It should be given once or twice daily depending on the patient's needs. It may be given at any time, but at the same time each day.
For patients who receive twice daily dosing, the evening dose may be administered in the evening or at bedtime.
When administering insulin detemir alone or to an existing regimen with or without GLP-1 receptor agonists, the recommended daily starting dose is 10 units (or 0.1 to 0.2 units/kg) followed by individual dosage adjustments.
When adding GLP-1 receptor agonists to an existing insulin detemir regimen, the dosage of insulin detemir should be reduced by 20%. Subsequent individual dosage adjustments are required.
Insulin detemir is for subcutaneous administration only.
Administer in the thigh, the upper arm or the abdominal wall.
Children under 1 year
Precautions and Warnings
Children aged 1 to 18 years
Insulin requirements may be diminished by renal or hepatic impairment
Advise patient to take precautions to avoid hypoglycaemia whilst driving
Change in injection site area may necessitate dose adjustment
Consider cutaneous amyloidosis if injection site subcutaneous lumps occur
Do not use if contents have been frozen
Not for use in infusion pumps or external or implanted insulin pumps
Rotate injection sites within a given area to avoid lipodystrophy
Solution must not be drawn from cartridge or pre-filled pen into a syringe
Use designated delivery device only
Use only if the solution is clear and colourless
Monitor blood glucose
Monitor dosage closely in presence of renal or hepatic impairment
Advise patient to report cutaneous amyloidosis symptoms
Compensatory response to hypoglycaemia may be impaired
Risk of hypoglycaemia may be increased by exercise or ingestion of alcohol
Consider dosage modification if diet or exercise levels are changed
Insulin requirements may increase during illness,puberty or emotional upset
Removal of stress factors may necessitate dose adjustment
Transfer from other brands of insulin may involve dosage adjustment
Pregnancy & breastfeeding: Insulin requirements may vary
Advise patient they have to inform the DVLA of antidiabetic medication
Advise patient to contact doctor if travel between time zones is planned
Advise patients of the warning signs of hypoglycaemia
Advise patients to have glucose available in the event of hypoglycaemia
Close glucose monitoring is recommended during transfer from other insulin products and in the following weeks. Doses and timing of concurrent rapid acting or short acting insulin products or other concomitant anti-diabetic treatment may need to be adjusted.
Transferring a patient to another type or brand of insulin should be done under strict medical supervision. Changes in strength, brand (manufacturer), type (rapid acting insulin, intermediate acting insulin, long acting insulin etc) species (human insulin analogue, animal), and/or method of manufacture (recombinant DNA versus animal source insulin) may result in the need for a change of dose.
In children, care should be taken to match insulin doses (especially in basal-bolus regimens) with food intake and physical activities in order to minimise the risk of hypoglycaemia.
Cases of cardiac failure have been reported when pioglitazone and insulin are used in combination, especially in patients with a high risk of development of cardiac failure. If this combination is used, patients should be observed for symptoms of heart failure, weight gain and oedema. If deterioration in cardiac symptoms occurs, pioglitazone should be discontinued.
Pregnancy and Lactation
Detailed guidance on the treatment of diabetes during pregnancy is available from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) at https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng3 .
Insulin is the treatment of choice for both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes during pregnancy as it provides better control of maternal blood glucose compared to oral hypoglycaemics. It is believed that human insulin and insulin analogues do not cross the placenta, however there may be endogenous carrier proteins allowing passage of insulin to the embryo during early gestation; animal insulin is believed to cross the human placenta. The foetus produces its own insulin once insulin-secreting cells in the foetal pancreas become differentiated at the end of the first trimester.
Human insulin is considered safe to use during pregnancy and extensive experience with human insulin during pregnancy does not indicate any embryotoxic potential. Human insulin is often the first line treatment for diabetes and the benchmark used when comparing the safety of other insulins during pregnancy.
There is insufficient experience regarding the use of long-acting insulin analogues during pregnancy. Schaefer (2007) concludes that long-acting insulin analogues should be avoided during pregnancy. Current national guidelines state that if long-acting insulin analogues are required, then isophane insulin (sometimes referred to as NPH insulin) is the long-acting insulin of choice.
Infants of diabetic mothers are at an increased risk of congenital abnormalities, the rate of which appears to be related to maternal glycaemic control during the first trimester. Careful control of maternal blood glucose is required throughout pregnancy. Good maternal glycaemic control during labour and birth is important in preventing adverse neonatal outcomes including neonatal hypoglycaemia and respiratory stress.
The use of all medication in pregnancy should be avoided whenever possible; particularly in the first trimester. Non-drug treatments should also be considered. When essential, a medication with the best safety record over time should be chosen, employing the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time. Polypharmacy should be avoided. Teratogens taken in the pre-embryonic period, often quoted as lasting until 14 to 17 days post-conception, are believed to have an all-or-nothing effect. Where drugs have a short half-life, and when the date of conception is certain, this may allow women to be reassured where drug exposure has occurred within this time frame. Further advice may be available from the UK National Teratology Information Service (NTIS) and through ToxBase, available via password on the internet ( www.toxbase.org ) or if this is unavailable at the backup site ( www.toxbasebackup.org ).
Insulin is a natural component of breast milk and insulin treatment of breastfeeding mothers should represent no risk to the infant. Insulin in breast milk is digested by the infant's gut (Briggs, 2011) and is thought to contribute to intestinal maturation and decrease the risk of contracting type 1 diabetes in breastfed infants (Lactmed, via Toxnet).
Proper insulin levels are required for lactation. Good glycaemic control decreases the delay in establishment of lactation that is observed in diabetic mothers as well as enhancing maternal serum and milk prolactin concentrations.
No adverse effects have been reported relating the use of insulin to breastfeeding, therefore it is considered safe to for diabetic mothers receiving insulin to continue breastfeeding.
Neonates, infants born prematurely, those with low birth weight, those with an unstable gastrointestinal function or who have serious illnesses may require special consideration. For any infant, if a drug is prescribed to the nursing mother, it should be at the lowest practical dose and for the shortest time. When drug administration is unavoidable and breastfeeding is to continue, minimisation of exposure of the infant to the drug may sometimes be achieved by timing the maternal doses to just after a feeding episode. Infants exposed to drugs via breast milk should be monitored for unusual signs or symptoms. Interactions between the drug received by the infant from the mother's milk and medication prescribed for the infant should also be considered, for example, when the drug given to the infant may prevent metabolism of the drug received via breast milk.
Specialist advice is available from the UK Drugs in Lactation Advisory Service at https://www.midlandsmedicines.nhs.uk/content.asp?section=6&subsection=17&pageIdx=1
Patients should be shown the container to confirm the version of insulin is the one they are expecting.
Patient should be advised that injection sites should be rotated within the same area to minimise the risk of developing lipodystrophy.
Advise patient to seek medical advice regarding dosage if they are intending to travel between different time zones.
Advise female patients to consult their GP if pregnancy is suspected or planned.
Advise patient of the warning signs of hypoglycaemia.
Diabetic patients should be advised to carry a source of sugar, for example some sugar lumps or a few biscuits in case of hypoglycaemia.
Patients should be aware that emotional upset or concurrent illness, especially infection and fever, will usually increase insulin requirements.
Patients whose blood glucose is greatly improved, e.g. by intensified insulin therapy, may experience a change in their usual warning symptoms of hypoglycaemia and should be advised accordingly.
Advise patients to take precautions to avoid hypoglycaemia whilst driving. This is particularly important in those who have reduced or absent awareness of the warning symptoms of hypoglycaemia or have frequent hypoglycaemic episodes.
Advise patient to report cutaneous amyloidosis symptoms.
Inform the patient that he/she needs to inform the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) about the medication they are receiving. The Drivers Medical Group at the DVLA will be able to advise the patient on the legal issues surrounding the treatment of diabetes mellitus and driving.
The DVLA can be contacted by post at the following address:
Drivers' medical enquiries, DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1TU
By phone on 0300 790 6806; or by fax on 0845 850 0095
Detailed guidance on eligibility to drive, and precautions required, is available from the DVLA.
Further information concerning diabetes and driving may be obtained from the DVLA website at:
Cool pale skin
Injection site reactions
Lipodystrophy (injection site)
Oedema (injection site)
Worsening of diabetic retinopathy (temporary)
It is strongly recommended that the UK National Poisons Information Service be consulted on cases of suspected or actual overdose where there is doubt over the degree of risk or about appropriate management.
The following number will direct the caller to the relevant local centre (0844) 892 0111
Information may be obtained if you have access to ToxBase the primary clinical toxicology database of the National Poisons Information Service. This is available via password on the internet ( www.toxbase.org ) or if this is unavailable at the backup site ( www.toxbasebackup.org ).
Last Full Review Date: September 2015
Drugs During Pregnancy and Lactation: Treatment Options and Risk Assessment, 2nd edition (2007) ed. Schaefer, C., Peters, P. and Miller, R. Elsevier, London.
Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation: A Reference Guide to Fetal and Neonatal Risk, 9th edition (2011) ed. Briggs, G., Freeman, R. and Yaffe, S. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia.
Joint Formulary Committee. British National Formulary (online) London: BMJ Group and Pharmaceutical Press. Accessed on 07 September 2015.
Paediatric Formulary Committee. BNF for Children (online) London: BMJ Group, Pharmaceutical Press, and RCPCH Publications. Accessed on 07 September 2015.
Summary of Product Characteristics: Levemir FlexPen 100 units/ml solution for injection in pre-filled pen. Novo Nordisk Ltd. Revised April 2018.
Summary of Product Characteristics: Levemir InnoLet 100 units/ml solution for injection in pre-filled pen. Novo Nordisk Ltd. Revised April 2018.
Summary of Product Characteristics: Levemir Penfill 100 units/ml solution for injection in cartridge. Novo Nordisk Ltd. Revised April 2018.
MHRA Drug Safety Update September 2020
Available at: https://www.mhra.gov.uk
Last accessed: 16 December 2020
US National Library of Medicine. Toxicology Data Network. Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed).
Available at: https://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/htmlgen?LACT
Insulin. Last revised: 10 March 2015
Last accessed: 07 September 2015
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