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Keywords:

  • adherence;
  • basal insulin;
  • insulin analogue;
  • type 2 diabetes

Insulin treatment in type 1 and type 2 diabetes (T1D and T2D) is highly efficacious, but in practice, non-adherence and ineffective dose titration limit its effectiveness. Barriers to more effective insulin treatment are numerous, including hypoglycaemia, fear of hypoglycaemia and concern about weight gain. The regular treatment timing needed with conventional basal insulins [neutral protamine Hagedorn (NPH) insulin and the first-generation analogues glargine and detemir] may also make adherence to these treatments problematic for many patients. Indeed, surveys indicate that the rigidity of this schedule induces some patients with T1D and T2D to omit insulin doses. Degludec is a novel, ultra-long-acting basal insulin analogue that is as effective as insulin glargine, but significantly reduces patients' risk of nocturnal hypoglycaemia. Because of its peakless, extended and highly predictable glucose-lowering effect, once-daily dosing on a flexible schedule may be feasible with degludec. Studies testing this possibility suggest that degludec tolerates day-to-day variation in dose timing while maintaining full efficacy and low risk of nocturnal hypoglycaemia. Degludec would appear to be an appropriate choice for patients being considered for a basal analogue, and it may be particularly well suited to patients with unpredictable social or work schedules, those who travel frequently and those who find rigid scheduling of their insulin injections a burden or barrier to regular treatment.