Levemir Insulin: Onset, Peak, and Duration Guide

Levemir-Duration-Guide

Levemir (insulin detemir) is a long-acting insulin used to manage blood sugar levels in adults and children with diabetes.

The Levemir injection with the brand name Levemir and the pen device Levemir FlexTouch both received FDA approval – the drug itself in 2005, whereas the Levemir FlexTouch pen later in 2014.

This guide explains Levemir’s peak times and duration of action. We also discuss proper Levemir dosing and explain the potential side effects of this medication. Read on to learn more!

Levemir or insulin detemir (rDNA origin) is an injectable, sterile insulin solution. It’s a long-acting basal insulin analog that works by binding itself to insulin receptors, resulting in lower blood glucose.

This happens in two ways. The Levemir insulin is responsible for causing the cellular uptake of glucose into bones and fat. It also helps to transfer glucose out of the liver.1

Since Levemir is a long-acting insulin, it releases the hormone over a longer period of time, helping to manage the blood sugar in diabetes patients throughout the day. How long does Levemir last? And what is its peak time?

Insulin pens on wooden background, close-up

Levemir Duration of Action and Peak Time

How long does it take for Levemir to work? As with most long-acting insulins, Levemir starts to work within hours of receiving the injection. Usually, it’s anywhere from 1 to 2 hours. Levemir action time lasts from 14 to 24 hours. Levemir’s peak time falls between 6 to 8 hours from the injection.1

The rate at which the insulin is absorbed depends on a few factors, including the dose and the number of injections administered throughout the day. Levemir’s onset can also be affected by less predictable factors, such as illness, stress, increased physical activity, or changes in meal patterns.

It’s crucial to be aware of those variables and control glucose levels with appropriate blood sugar monitoring techniques (e.g., using a glucometer).

Levemir Insulin Action Profile

Action

Timeframe

Onset of Action

1-2 hours

Duration of Action

14-24 hours

Peak Time

6-8 hours

Levemir Dosing

Proper insulin dosing for diabetes is imperative to avoid serious health risks and improve the quality of life. A medical provider will prescribe each patient an adequate Levemir dosage and administration schedule based on individual factors such as lifestyle or coexisting health conditions and other medications taken by the patient.

At the beginning of the treatment, it is common for physicians to start the patients on lower Levemir doses and increase them in accordance to needs and desired effects.

The information presented below is only for educational purposes and illustrates the commonly prescribed Levemir doses. It’s not meant to be treated as a guide on how to dose the insulin.

Always follow your doctor’s instructions for medication dosing.

Levemir Dosage for Type 1 Diabetes

For patients with Type 1 Diabetes, Levemir dosage is going to be calculated based on whether or not you’ve been using other insulin medications.

Typically, a long-acting insulin is not the only type of hormone patients administer to manage their blood sugar levels. In most cases, Levemir will be used alongside a rapid-acting insulin.

To determine the dosage, the doctor will consider your past average insulin use. The starting dose is usually ⅓ or ½ of the daily insulin intake requirement.2

As for the patients who never used insulin, the medication dose will be calculated based on their body weight. This, again, may vary depending on the individual circumstances, but the typical dose is 0.2 units/kg to 0.4 units/kg.2

Levemir Dosage for Type 2 Diabetes

With Type 2 diabetes, patients may or may not be administering only one type of insulin. When prescribed Levemir, you will likely be placed on one dose per day schedule. There is also an option to utilize two doses per day schedule, and the choice between the two will be made by your doctor.

Here, a common starting dose is 10 units. A physician can also determine the correct dose based on your weight (0.1 units/kg to 0.2 units/kg).2

If you have any questions about Levemir’s dosing and administration schedule, talk to your healthcare provider. They will be able to offer you specialized knowledge and adjust insulin doses to your individual needs.2

Glucose meter on the red background

Levemir Potential Side Effects

As with any other drug, there is a list of potential side effects you may experience when taking Levemir.3 They range from mild and short-lived to more serious and requiring medical intervention.

Those symptoms include:

  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
  • Headache
  • Flu-like symptoms (stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat)
  • Back pain
  • Stomach pain
  • Weight gain
  • Injection site reactions
  • Swelling in your hands and feet (edema)
  • Low potassium levels
  • Allergic reaction
 

Important: If you notice any signs of Levemir’s serious side effects, contact the doctor immediately.

Levemir Discontinuation

Novo Nordisk, the company that produces Levemir, in 2023 announced plans to discontinue it at the end of 2024. Those plans were a result of inner business strategies and were not related to the effectiveness or safety of the medication.

Levemir vials will no longer be available after December 31, 2024. For this reason, you should talk about Levemir alternatives with your physician. They will be able to present you with a suitable basal insulin medication to replace Levemir.

Don’t stop taking Levemir abruptly. Your doctor will develop a transition plan to ensure smooth control of your blood sugar levels with the new insulin.

You may also reach out to Novo Nordisk (1-800-727-6500) if you have any questions about the discontinuation.

Conclusion

It’s important to properly dose the medication and follow your doctor’s recommendations. Also, consult them if you have any questions regarding Levemir’s dosing, side effects, and potential replacement.

Sources:

  1. LEVEMIR ®, Label, https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2007/021536s015lbl.pdf
  2. “Levemir and Dosage: Forms, Strength, How to Use, and More.” Healthline, 22 Nov. 2021, www.healthline.com/health/drugs/levemir-dosage.
  3. “Levemir Side Effects: What They Are and How to Manage Them.” Healthline, 18 Nov. 2021, www.healthline.com/health/drugs/levemir-side-effects.

Share: