Insulin Analogs—Is There a Compelling Case to Use Them? No!

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Abstract

The availability of insulin analogs has offered insulin replacement strategies that are proposed to more closely mimic normal human physiology. Specifically, there are a considerable number of reports demonstrating that prandial insulin analogs (lispro, aspart, glulisine) have pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic profiles closer to normal, with resulting faster onset and offset of insulin effect when compared with regular human insulin. In addition, basal insulin analogs (glargine, detemir) have been reported to offer longer duration of action, less variability, more predictability, less hypoglycemia (especially nocturnal), and a favorable effect on weight. However, an argument against use of analog insulins as compared with use of regular or NPH insulin is one that states that the effectiveness and risk of hypoglycemia are the only two valid clinical outcomes that should be used to compare the analog and human insulins. Thus, there remains a debate in some circles that analog insulins are no more effective than human insulins, yet at a much higher financial cost. To provide an in-depth understanding of both sides of the argument, we provide a discussion of this topic as part of this two-part point-counterpoint narrative. In the counterpoint narrative presented here, Dr. Davidson provides his argument and defends his opinion that outside of a few exceptions, analog insulins provide no clinical benefit compared with human insulins but cost much more. In the preceding point narrative, Dr. Grunberger provides a defense of analog insulins and their value in clinical management and suggests that when evaluating the “cost” of therapy, a much more global assessment is needed.

—William T. Cefalu

Editor in Chief, Diabetes Care

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