Insulin Degludec and Liraglutide
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Jul 8, 2020.
(IN su lin de GLOO dek & lir a GLOO tide)
- Degludec Insulin and Liraglutide
- Liraglutide and Insulin Degludec
Excipient information presented when available (limited, particularly for generics); consult specific product labeling.
Solution Pen-injector, Subcutaneous:
Xultophy: 100/3.6: Insulin degludec 100 units and liraglutide 3.6 mg per mL (3 mL) [contains phenol]
Brand Names: U.S.
- Antidiabetic Agent, Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 (GLP-1) Receptor Agonist
- Insulin, Long-Acting
Refer to individual agents.
Use: Labeled Indications
Diabetes mellitus, type 2, treatment: As an adjunct to diet and exercise to improve glycemic control in adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Hypersensitivity to insulin degludec, liraglutide, or any component of the formulation; history of or family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC); patients with multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN2); during episodes of hypoglycemia
Canadian labeling: Additional contraindications (not in US labeling): Pregnant or breastfeeding women
Diabetes mellitus, type 2, treatment:
Note: Due to lack of additive glycemic benefit, avoid concomitant use with a dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitor (ADA/EASD [Davies 2018]; Nauck 2017). Consider a dose reduction (eg, by 50%) or discontinuation of insulin secretagogues (sulfonylureas, meglitinides) to avoid hypoglycemia (AACE/ACE [Garber 2020]; ADA/EASD [Davies 2018]).
Note: Discontinue therapy with basal insulin or a GLP-1 agonist prior to initiation of the combination product.
Patients naive to basal insulin or a GLP-1 agonist: 10 units (insulin degludec 10 units/liraglutide 0.36 mg) once daily.
Patients currently on basal insulin or a GLP-1 agonist: 16 units (insulin degludec 16 units/liraglutide 0.58 mg) once daily.
Dose titration: Titrate dosage upwards or downwards by 2 units (insulin degludec 2 units/liraglutide 0.072 mg) once or twice weekly (every 3 to 4 days) until the desired fasting plasma glucose is achieved. Maximum dose: 50 units (insulin degludec 50 units/liraglutide 1.8 mg)/day
Missed dose: Resume with next regularly scheduled dose; do not administer an extra dose or increase dose to account for missed dose. If more than 3 days have elapsed since last dose, reinitiate at the initial dosage once daily
Dosage adjustment for concomitant therapy: Significant drug interactions exist, requiring dose/frequency adjustment or avoidance. Consult drug interactions database for more information.
Refer to adult dosing.
SubQ: For SubQ use only. Do not administer IM, IV, or via an insulin pump. Cold injections should be avoided. Inject into the abdomen, thigh, or upper arm. Rotate injection sites for each dose; do not use the same site for each injection to avoid lipodystrophy or localized cutaneous amyloidosis. Rotating from an injection site where lipodystrophy/cutaneous amyloidosis is present to an unaffected site may increase risk of hypoglycemia. Administer once daily at the same time each day with or without food. Do not split the dose. Solution should appear clear and colorless; do not use if particulate matter or coloration is seen. Do not mix or dilute with any other insulin or solution. Prefilled pen dials in 1-unit increments.
Individualized medical nutrition therapy (MNT) based on ADA recommendations is an integral part of therapy
Prior to initial use, store pens at 2°C to 8°C (36°F to 46°F). Do not freeze (discard if frozen). Protect from light. After initial use, may store for up to 21 days at room temperature (15ºC to 30°C [59ºF to 86°F]) or under refrigeration (2ºC to 8ºC [36ºF to 46ºF]). Replace the pen cap after each use, do not store with needle attached.
Alpha-Glucosidase Inhibitors: May enhance the hypoglycemic effect of Insulins. Management: Consider a decrease in insulin dose when initiating therapy with an alpha-glucosidase inhibitor and monitor patients for hypoglycemia. Consider therapy modification
Alpha-Lipoic Acid: May enhance the hypoglycemic effect of Antidiabetic Agents. Monitor therapy
Androgens: May enhance the hypoglycemic effect of Agents with Blood Glucose Lowering Effects. Monitor therapy
Antidiabetic Agents: May enhance the hypoglycemic effect of Hypoglycemia-Associated Agents. Monitor therapy
Beta-Blockers: May enhance the hypoglycemic effect of Insulins. Monitor therapy
Dipeptidyl Peptidase-IV Inhibitors: May enhance the hypoglycemic effect of Insulins. Management: Consider a decrease in insulin dose when initiating therapy with a dipeptidyl peptidase-IV inhibitor and monitor patients for hypoglycemia. Consider therapy modification
Direct Acting Antiviral Agents (HCV): May enhance the hypoglycemic effect of Antidiabetic Agents. Monitor therapy
Edetate CALCIUM Disodium: May enhance the hypoglycemic effect of Insulins. Monitor therapy
Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Agonists: May enhance the hypoglycemic effect of Insulins. Management: Consider insulin dose reductions when used in combination with glucagon-like peptide-1 agonists. Consider therapy modification
Guanethidine: May enhance the hypoglycemic effect of Antidiabetic Agents. Monitor therapy
Herbs (Hypoglycemic Properties): May enhance the hypoglycemic effect of Hypoglycemia-Associated Agents. Monitor therapy
Hyperglycemia-Associated Agents: May diminish the therapeutic effect of Antidiabetic Agents. Monitor therapy
Hypoglycemia-Associated Agents: May enhance the hypoglycemic effect of other Hypoglycemia-Associated Agents. Monitor therapy
Hypoglycemia-Associated Agents: Antidiabetic Agents may enhance the hypoglycemic effect of Hypoglycemia-Associated Agents. Monitor therapy
Insulins: Liraglutide may enhance the hypoglycemic effect of Insulins. Management: Consider reducing the liraglutide dose if coadministered with insulin. Prescribing information for the Saxenda brand of liraglutide recommends a dose decrease of 50%. Monitor blood glucose for hypoglycemia. Consider therapy modification
Liraglutide: May enhance the hypoglycemic effect of Insulins. Management: Consider reducing the liraglutide dose if coadministered with insulin. Prescribing information for the Saxenda brand of liraglutide recommends a dose decrease of 50%. Monitor blood glucose for hypoglycemia. Consider therapy modification
Macimorelin: Insulins may diminish the diagnostic effect of Macimorelin. Avoid combination
Maitake: May enhance the hypoglycemic effect of Agents with Blood Glucose Lowering Effects. Monitor therapy
Metreleptin: May enhance the hypoglycemic effect of Insulins. Management: Insulin dosage adjustments (including potentially large decreases) may be required to minimize the risk for hypoglycemia with concurrent use of metreleptin. Monitor closely for signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia. Consider therapy modification
Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors: May enhance the hypoglycemic effect of Agents with Blood Glucose Lowering Effects. Monitor therapy
Pegvisomant: May enhance the hypoglycemic effect of Agents with Blood Glucose Lowering Effects. Monitor therapy
Pioglitazone: May enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Insulins. Specifically, the risk for hypoglycemia, fluid retention, and heart failure may be increased with this combination. Management: If insulin is combined with pioglitazone, consider insulin dose reductions to avoid hypoglycemia. Monitor patients for fluid retention and signs/symptoms of heart failure, and consider pioglitazone dose reduction or discontinuation if heart failure occurs Consider therapy modification
Pramlintide: May enhance the hypoglycemic effect of Insulins. Management: Upon initiation of pramlintide, decrease mealtime insulin dose by 50% to reduce the risk of hypoglycemia. Monitor blood glucose frequently and individualize further insulin dose adjustments based on glycemic control. Consider therapy modification
Prothionamide: May enhance the hypoglycemic effect of Agents with Blood Glucose Lowering Effects. Monitor therapy
Quinolones: May enhance the hypoglycemic effect of Agents with Blood Glucose Lowering Effects. Quinolones may diminish the therapeutic effect of Agents with Blood Glucose Lowering Effects. Specifically, if an agent is being used to treat diabetes, loss of blood sugar control may occur with quinolone use. Monitor therapy
Ritodrine: May diminish the therapeutic effect of Antidiabetic Agents. Monitor therapy
Rosiglitazone: Insulins may enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Rosiglitazone. Specifically, the risk of fluid retention, heart failure, and hypoglycemia may be increased with this combination. Avoid combination
Salicylates: May enhance the hypoglycemic effect of Agents with Blood Glucose Lowering Effects. Monitor therapy
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors: May enhance the hypoglycemic effect of Agents with Blood Glucose Lowering Effects. Monitor therapy
Sincalide: Drugs that Affect Gallbladder Function may diminish the therapeutic effect of Sincalide. Management: Consider discontinuing drugs that may affect gallbladder motility prior to the use of sincalide to stimulate gallbladder contraction. Consider therapy modification
Sodium-Glucose Cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) Inhibitors: May enhance the hypoglycemic effect of Insulins. Management: Consider a decrease in insulin dose when initiating therapy with a sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 inhibitor and monitor patients for hypoglycemia. Consider therapy modification
Sulfonylureas: Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Agonists may enhance the hypoglycemic effect of Sulfonylureas. Management: Consider sulfonylurea dose reductions when used in combination with glucagon-like peptide-1 agonists. Consider therapy modification
Thiazide and Thiazide-Like Diuretics: May diminish the therapeutic effect of Antidiabetic Agents. Monitor therapy
The following adverse drug reactions and incidences are derived from product labeling unless otherwise specified.
Also see individual agents.
Endocrine & metabolic: Hypoglycemia (14% to 37%; severe hypoglycemia: <1%)
Immunologic: Antibody development (2% to 11%; antibody formation has not been associated with reduced efficacy)
1% to 10%:
Gastrointestinal: Diarrhea (8%), increased serum lipase (7%), nausea (8%)
Local: Injection site reaction (3%; mild and transitory)
Nervous system: Headache (9%)
Respiratory: Nasopharyngitis (10%), upper respiratory tract infection (6%)
Frequency not defined:
Cardiovascular: Increased heart rate
Endocrine & metabolic: Hypokalemia, weight gain
Local: Hypertrophy at injection site (lipohypertrophy), lipoatrophy at injection site, lipotrophy at injection site (lipodystrophy)
Dermatologic: Allergic skin reaction, urticaria
Endocrine & metabolic: Amyloidosis (localized cutaneous at injection site)
Gastrointestinal: Abdominal distension, abdominal pain, constipation, decreased appetite, dyspepsia, eructation, flatulence, gastritis, gastroesophageal reflux disease, vomiting
Hypersensitivity: Anaphylaxis, angioedema, hypersensitivity reaction
ALERT: U.S. Boxed WarningThyroid C-cell tumor risk:
Liraglutide, one of the components of insulin degludec/liraglutide, causes dose-dependent and treatment duration-dependent thyroid C-cell tumors at clinically relevant exposures in both genders of rats and mice. It is unknown whether insulin degludec/liraglutide causes thyroid C-cell tumors, including medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), in humans, as the human relevance of liraglutide-induced rodent thyroid C-cell tumors has not been determined.
Insulin degludec/liraglutide is contraindicated in patients with a personal or family history of MTC and in patients with multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2). Counsel patients regarding the potential risk for MTC with the use of insulin degludec/liraglutide and inform them of symptoms of thyroid tumors (eg, a mass in the neck, dysphagia, dyspnea, persistent hoarseness). Routine monitoring of serum calcitonin or using thyroid ultrasound is of uncertain value for early detection of MTC in patients treated with insulin degludec/liraglutide.
Concerns related to adverse effects:
• Antibody formation: Development of antibodies to insulin and liraglutide may occur. In clinical trials with insulin degludec/liraglutide combination, antibody formation was not associated with reduced efficacy. In clinical trials with liraglutide, patients with the highest titers of anti-liraglutide antibodies had no reduction in HbA1C.
• Gallbladder disease: Cholelithiasis and cholecystitis have been reported in patients treated with liraglutide, with the majority of patients requiring hospitalization or cholecystectomy; gallbladder studies and further clinical assessment are indicated if cholelithiasis is suspected.
• GI symptoms: Most common reactions are gastrointestinal related; these symptoms may be dose-related and may decrease in frequency/severity with gradual titration and continued use.
• Glycemic control: Hyper- or hypoglycemia may result from changes in insulin strength, manufacturer, type, and/or administration method. The most common adverse effect of insulin is hypoglycemia. The timing of hypoglycemia differs among various insulin formulations. Hypoglycemia may result from changes in meal pattern (eg, macronutrient content, timing of meals), changes in the level of physical activity, increased work or exercise without eating, or changes to coadministered medications. Use of long-acting insulin preparations (eg, insulin degludec, insulin detemir, insulin glargine) may delay recovery from hypoglycemia. Patients with renal or hepatic impairment may be at a higher risk. Symptoms differ in patients and may change over time in the same patient; awareness may be less pronounced in those with long-standing diabetes, diabetic nerve disease, patients taking beta-blockers, or in those who experience recurrent hypoglycemia. Profound and prolonged episodes of hypoglycemia may result in convulsions, unconsciousness, temporary or permanent brain damage, or even death. Insulin requirements may be altered during illness, emotional disturbances, or other stressors. Instruct patients to use caution with ethanol; may increase risk of hypoglycemia.
• Hypersensitivity: Serious hypersensitivity reactions including anaphylaxis and angioedema have been reported with liraglutide and with insulin degludec; discontinue use if hypersensitivity reactions occur and treat promptly as indicated. It is not known if patients with a history of hypersensitivity to other GLP-1 agonists are at increased risk for hypersensitivity reactions with liraglutide; patients with prior serious reactions to similar agents should be monitored closely.
• Hypokalemia: Insulin (especially IV insulin) causes a shift of potassium from the extracellular space to the intracellular space, possibly producing hypokalemia. If left untreated, hypokalemia may result in respiratory paralysis, ventricular arrhythmia and even death. Use with caution in patients at risk for hypokalemia (eg, loop diuretic use). Monitor serum potassium and supplement potassium when necessary.
• Pancreatitis: Cases of acute and chronic pancreatitis (including fatal and nonfatal, hemorrhagic or necrotizing pancreatitis) have been reported with GLP-1 receptor agonists; monitor for signs and symptoms of pancreatitis (eg, persistent severe abdominal pain which may radiate to the back and which may or may not be accompanied by vomiting). If pancreatitis is suspected, discontinue use. Do not resume unless an alternative etiology of pancreatitis is confirmed. It is not known if liraglutide increases risk for development of pancreatitis in patients with a history of pancreatitis.
• Renal effects: Acute renal failure and chronic renal failure exacerbation (including severe cases requiring hemodialysis) have been reported with liraglutide; some cases have been reported in patients with no known preexisting renal disease. Reports primarily occurred in patients with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or dehydration. Renal dysfunction was usually reversible with appropriate corrective measures, including discontinuation of liraglutide. Risk may be increased in patients receiving concomitant medications affecting renal function and/or hydration status.
• Thyroid tumors: [US Boxed Warning] Dose-dependent and treatment duration-dependent thyroid C-cell tumors have developed in animal studies with liraglutide therapy; it is unknown whether liraglutide will cause thyroid C-cell tumors, including MTC, in humans, as the human relevance of liraglutide-induced rodent thyroid C-cell tumors has not been determined. Patients should be counseled on the potential risk of MTC with the use of liraglutide and informed of symptoms of thyroid tumors (eg, neck mass, dysphagia, dyspnea, persistent hoarseness). Use is contraindicated in patients with a personal or a family history of MTC and in patients with multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN2). Patients who develop elevated calcitonin concentrations or have thyroid nodules detected during imaging studies or physical exam should be further evaluated. Routine monitoring of serum calcitonin or using thyroid ultrasound monitoring is of uncertain value for early detection of MTC in patients treated with liraglutide.
• Bariatric surgery:
– Dehydration: Evaluate, correct, and maintain postsurgical fluid requirements and volume status prior to initiating therapy, and closely monitor the patient for the duration of therapy; acute and chronic kidney failure exacerbation may occur. A majority of cases occurred in patients with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and/or dehydration. Nausea is common and fluid intake may be more difficult after gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, and gastric band (Mechanick 2013).
– Excessive glucagon-like peptide-1 exposure: Closely monitor for efficacy and assess for signs and symptoms of pancreatitis if therapy is initiated after surgery; gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy (but not gastric band) significantly increase endogenous postprandial glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) concentrations (Korner 2009; Peterli 2012). Administration of exogenous GLP-1 agonists may be redundant to surgery effects.
– Type 2 diabetes, hypoglycemia: Closely monitor insulin dose requirement throughout active weight loss with a goal of eliminating antidiabetic therapy or transitioning to agents without hypoglycemic potential; hypoglycemia after gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, and gastric band may occur (Mechanick 2013). Insulin secretion and sensitivity may be partially or completely restored early after these procedures (gastric bypass is most effective, followed by sleeve and finally band) (Korner 2009; Peterli 2012). Monitoring of hospital insulin requirements is recommended to guide discharge insulin dose. Rates and timing of type 2 diabetes improvement and resolution vary widely by patient; insulin dose reduction of 75% has been suggested after gastric bypass for patients without severe β-cell failure (fasting c-peptide <0.3 nmol/L) (Cruijsen 2014).
– Weight gain: Insulin therapy is preferred if antidiabetic therapy is required during the perioperative period (Mechanick 2019). Evaluate risk versus benefit of long-term perioperative use and consider alternative therapy due to potential for insulin-induced weight gain (Apovian 2015).
• Cardiac disease: Concurrent use with peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)-gamma agonists, including thiazolidinediones (TZDs) may cause dose-related fluid retention and lead to or exacerbate heart failure, particularly when used in combination with insulin. If PPAR-gamma agonists are prescribed, monitor for signs and symptoms of heart failure. If heart failure develops, consider PPAR-gamma agonist dosage reduction or therapy discontinuation.
• Gastroparesis: Liraglutide slows gastric emptying; has not been studied in patients with preexisting gastroparesis.
• Hepatic impairment: Use with caution in patients with hepatic impairment, insulin requirements may be reduced due to changes in insulin clearance or metabolism; monitor blood glucose closely. Dosage adjustments may be necessary.
• Renal impairment: Use with caution in patients with renal impairment. Dosage adjustments may be necessary.
Dosage form specific issues:
• Multiple dose injection pens: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pen-shaped injection devices should never be used for more than one person (even when the needle is changed) because of the risk of infection. The injection device should be clearly labeled with individual patient information to ensure that the correct pen is used (CDC 2012).
• Appropriate use: Not approved for use in patients with diabetic ketoacidosis or patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus.
• Patient education: Diabetes self-management education (DSME) is essential to maximize the effectiveness of therapy.
Plasma glucose (typically before meals and snacks and at bedtime; occasionally additional monitoring may be required), electrolytes, HbA1c (at least twice yearly in patients who have stable glycemic control and are meeting treatment goals; quarterly in patients not meeting treatment goals or with therapy change [ADA 2020]); renal function, hepatic function, weight; signs/symptoms of pancreatitis; triglycerides; signs/symptoms of gallbladder disease.
Gestational diabetes mellitus: Blood glucose 4 times daily (1 fasting and 3 postprandial) until well controlled, then as appropriate (ACOG 2018).
Adverse events were observed in some animal reproduction studies. Refer to individual agents.
What is this drug used for?
• It is used to lower blood sugar in patients with high blood sugar (diabetes).
All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:
• Nose or throat irritation
• Common cold symptoms
• Upset stomach
• Throwing up
• Stomach pain
• Passing gas
• Not hungry
• Injection site irritation
WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:
• Thyroid cancer like new lump or swelling in the neck, pain in the front of the neck, persistent cough, persistent change in voice like hoarseness, or trouble swallowing or breathing
• Pancreatitis like very bad stomach pain, very bad back pain, or very bad upset stomach or throwing up
• Gallbladder problems like pain in the upper right belly area, right shoulder area, or between the shoulder blades; yellow skin or eyes; fever with chills; bloating; or very upset stomach or throwing up
• Liver problems like dark urine, feeling tired, not hungry, upset stomach, stomach pain, light-colored stools, throwing up, or yellow skin or eyes
• Kidney problems like unable to pass urine, change in how much urine is passed, blood in the urine, or a big weight gain
• Low potassium like muscle pain or weakness, muscle cramps, or a heartbeat that does not feel normal
• Change in eyesight
• Dizziness or passing out
• Slurred speech
• Injection site thick skin, pits, or lumps
• Mood changes
• Shortness of breath, a big weight gain, or swelling in the arms or legs
• Low blood sugar like dizziness, headache, feeling tired, feeling weak, shaking, fast heartbeat, confusion, hunger, or sweating.
• Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Note: This is not a comprehensive list of all side effects. Talk to your doctor if you have questions.
Consumer Information Use and Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only the healthcare provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for a specific patient. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a limited summary of general information about the medicine's uses from the patient education leaflet and is not intended to be comprehensive. This limited summary does NOT include all information available about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and does not replace information you receive from the healthcare provider. For a more detailed summary of information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine, please speak with your healthcare provider and review the entire patient education leaflet.
Frequently asked questions
More about insulin degludec / liraglutide
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