A new variety of long-lasting insulin, called insulin degludec, lowers the risk of nighttime low blood sugar in elderly diabetic adults compared with insulin glargine, a systematic review of diabetes studies has found. The meta-analysis of phase 3 clinical trials will be presented Monday at The Endocrine Society's 94th Annual Meeting in Houston.
"Insulin degludec is a well-tolerated and appropriate therapy for elderly patients with diabetes, who are particularly vulnerable to low blood glucose levels," said the study's lead author Christopher Sorli, MD, chairman of the Department of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism at Billings Clinic in Billings, Mont.
"Compared with insulin glargine, insulin degludec may offer considerable benefits by reducing the major side effect of insulin therapy, hypoglycemia," Sorli said.
Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, occurs often in elderly diabetic patients, especially at night when they are asleep and unable to try to reverse it.
Sorli and the other researchers evaluated the rates of hypoglycemia in 915 patients ages 65 and older who had either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. The patients were among more than 4,300 diabetic individuals who participated in one of seven clinical trials that compared insulin degludec with a commercially available insulin (glargine). Insulin degludec is a basal, or long-lasting, injectable insulin that is awaiting approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to its manufacturer, Denmark-headquartered Novo Nordisk, which funded this study.
Study participants received treatment once a day for either 26 weeks or 52 weeks. Most patients (632) randomly received insulin degludec, and the other 283 patients randomly received insulin glargine.