More Marketing Wars: Lantus vs. Levemir

Another larger-than-life Diabetes Marketing War, this time without the romantic names:

A while back I wrote a post introducing the first-ever competitor to Sanofi-Aventis’ long-actingLevemir2 insulin, Lantus. The new product is called Levemir, from Novo Nordisk.

What I missed more recently was that things turned ugly back in March. Sanofi filed suit against Novo Nordisk in a New Jersey U.S. District Court claiming that Novo was falsely promoting their drug as effective for 24 hours, which Sanofi claims is not true.

The case was dropped on June 23 for lack of evidence, so Novo can go on making its long-lasting efficacy claim.

Who’s right here? Who knows? Novo’s studies do seem to confirm its other two points of differentiation: that Levemir is well-absorbed by patients and causes less weight gain. Meanwhile a report released at the recent ADA Conference shows that a once-a-day dose of Lantus and Levemir have similar effects on Type 2 patients, but different effects on Type 1′s. Lantus seemed to keep the Type 1 patients at slightly more stable BG levels throughout the day.

But otherwise, “there is no difference in the time-action profiles between glargine and detemir with regard to the duration of action and mean metabolic impact,” says researcher Tim Heise, M.D.

And it’s not really about who lasts a few hours longer, anyway, is it? It’s more about who wins the marketing war.

BrandWeek nails it:

“The suit is another reminder that diabetes will be an increasingly aggressive arena for drug marketers. As the disease has no cure and requires lifelong treatments, and as America’s obesity problem is growing the total number of diabetics, the market will remain lucrative for the (pharma) industry.”

Advertisement

12 Responses

  1. Sean Wilson
    Sean Wilson July 5, 2006 at 9:46 am | | Reply

    I’ve tried both. Lantus gave me 20 hours. Levemir gives me about 12 hours. I like the levemir better because the 12 hours working period allows me more flexibility with my basal rate. ie more insulin at night and less during the day when I’m giving bolus shots.

  2. Scott
    Scott July 5, 2006 at 10:52 am | | Reply

    To be honest, after 30 years of using the newest insulins, I am not convinced that all analogs deliver better control than many of the older varieties that were suspended in zinc. Rapid acting analogs fill a unique void, but long-acting analogs don’t seem to have the same importance.

    We’ll have to wait until Lilly comes out with a “me-too” long acting analog. They are now the only major manufacturer without one in their product portfolio, which may explain why they have lost so much market share over the past 5 years that they are no longer the largest seller of insulin in the U.S. (that honor now belongs to Novo-Nordisk).

  3. jo
    jo July 5, 2006 at 4:47 pm | | Reply

    It all boils down to who can get the most money and not who can help the best. Which is sad, because due to the fact that this disease can bring in lots of money for them, they won’t spend the money to try and find a cure. Why shut off the milk cow?

  4. AmyT
    AmyT July 5, 2006 at 7:05 pm | | Reply

    Jo, I don’t necessarily adhere to the Conspiracy Theory that the Evil Forces are supressing a cure. But meanwhile, it’s interesting to be part of such a “profitable” disease. Can healthy competition have some benefits for patients too?

  5. sugardoc
    sugardoc July 9, 2006 at 5:08 pm | | Reply

    Both insulins are great additions to our goal of controlling BS in all types of patients and there is no need to argue about the MEDICAL adavantages and disadavantages of each. For 16 years I have been an endocrinologist and I have never been so excited and optimistic about the options (injectable and oral) available to me and my patients. Talk to your doc about the pros and cons of each for you.

  6. test
    test July 21, 2006 at 8:32 am | | Reply

    test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test test

  7. PARTONIA
    PARTONIA November 23, 2006 at 4:00 am | | Reply

    LANTUS INSULIN IS A BASAL INSULIN IT MAY WORK VERY WELL IN SOME DIABETESAND MAY WORK NOT IN SOME. IT DEPENDS ON YOU AND YUR CONDITION.BUT WITH LANTUS AND NOVOLOG WE ARE CLOSING TO A NORMAL LIFE KLIKE NON DIABETES AND THAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF NEW INSULINS.

  8. PETER ANDRUKIEWICZ
    PETER ANDRUKIEWICZ December 16, 2006 at 7:23 pm | | Reply

    AT ONE POINT OF MY LIFE I WAS TAKING 20 UNITS OF ULTRALENTE IN THE AM AND 10 UNITS OF LENTE AT BEDTIME. MY AM BS WERE THE BEST I HAD EVER HAD. MY ENDO HAD A NEW PAC WORKING FOR HIM AND SHE DID NOT LIKE ME TAKING THE LENTE BEFORE BED SO SHE CHANGED IT WITH HIS APPROVAL. MY MORNINGS WENT HAYWIRE AND SO DID MY A1C. WHEN I ASKED MY ENDO HE SAID THAT THIS WAS THE PRACTICE OF MEDICINE AND THAT THEY WERE PRACTICING ON ME. SINCE THAT TIME I HAVE FELT TERRIBLY CHANGED ENDOS AND AM NOW ON LANTUS WHICH I CAN’T STAND CUZ IT DOESN’T LAST ME 24 HOURS AND IN THE AM HOURS I AWAKE WITH LOW BLOOD SUGARS. SOMETIMES AS MUCH AS THESES PRACTIONERS OF MEDICINE WANT TO THINK THEY ARE HELPING THEY NEED TO REALIZE THAT THE PATIENT IS ULTIMATELY THE ONE WHO CAN HELP THE MOST. DOC’S LISTEN TO YOUR PATIENTS AND SEE WHAT FITS INTO THEIR LIFESTYLE AND NOT VICE VERSA.

  9. Amit Lal
    Amit Lal October 6, 2007 at 11:21 pm | | Reply

    LANTUS is best long acting basal insulin for type 2 patient.Lantus acts for 24 hour with less hypo episodes.Novo’s Levemir action last for only 12-16 hours,same has been shown in a new study betweeen these two basal insulin in Type 1 patient.Go for LANTUS for better glucose control throughout a day.

  10. Dennis
    Dennis October 9, 2007 at 8:54 pm | | Reply

    I started using Lantus even before it became approved in the USA, got it thru Canada.. I was Desperate to get off NPH, that caused alot of Hypos for me… and just gotten tired of waking up every other nite with Hypo’s…

    Then Came Lantus, which I thought would be the Lifesaver.. NOT… It did cause Less Hypo’sover nite, but still got them , none the less…ave 2x wk….vs 4x wk using NPH…

    Then came Levimir- Tried it and I got higher AM Sgrs, but no Hypo’s and after 3 mos of Experimenting? Got it pretty well dialed in… But, On some nites, I also have to take some Novalog ( not Increase Levemir) but AM’s are doing Great and No More hypo’s over nite…None, Zip, Nanna..

    It doesn’t have the Spike as Lantus…

    As for taking a 2nd shot-12 hrs later? Not needed, why? Becasue I test every 2 hrs and control the days levels with Novalog…

    And , yes I have begged the VA ( veteran) for a Pump, to no avail.. They say my BSgrs are very good and I don’t need one.. A1c’s range from 5.8 -6.3% Past Yr…

    So, if your Having Any Hypo’s overnite using Lantus? Try Levemir…but, be prepared to use mor Novalog as well.and test every 2 hrs thru out the day and you shouldn’t Need a 2nd 12 hr shot..

    Hope this helps someone

  11. steve
    steve December 3, 2007 at 8:00 am | | Reply

    Switched from NPH to Levemir a month ago. I was getting HgA1cs below 6 for years on NPH and Humalog in the am, additional humalog during the day as needed. More than half the time no additional humalog was needed so I’d get the whole day on one injection. Only downside was occasional hypo, but never so bad as to require assistance or emergency room. Dr made me switch to Levemir since only uses NPH for gestational diabetes. 1st, it doesn’t last anywhere near 24 hours, so the am readings are always high, requiring Humalog before bed. So I’ve basically traded at least 3, and often 4, injections a day for 1. Traded below 6 HGA1c for above 6. Hardly an improvement, but Dr. won’t let me back on NPH. And it costs 4x as much ($400 for 3 mos vs $100). Drug cos get rich, patient gets screwed.

  12. Bill Karro
    Bill Karro March 5, 2008 at 4:25 pm | | Reply

    Marketing war it is, & for me Levemir is winning this year. Have a new drug plan, and Lantus in vials for pen is twice as much as Levemir in pens.

Leave a Reply