Insulin degludec, an ultra-long-acting basal insulin, once a day or three times a week versus insulin glargine once a day in patients with type 2 diabetes: a 16-week, randomised, open-label, phase 2 trial

Lancet. 2011 Mar 12;377(9769):924-31. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(10)62305-7.


Background: Insulin degludec is a new basal insulin that forms soluble multihexamer assemblies after subcutaneous injection, resulting in an ultra-long action profile. This study aimed to assess efficacy and safety of insulin degludec injected once a day or three times a week compared with insulin glargine once a day in insulin-naive people with type 2 diabetes, who were inadequately controlled with oral antidiabetic drugs.

Methods: In this 16-week, randomised, open-label, parallel-group phase 2 trial, participants aged 18–75 years with type 2 diabetes and glycosylated haemoglobin (HbA(1C)) of 7·0–11·0% were enrolled and treated at 28 clinical sites in Canada, India, South Africa, and the USA. Participants were randomly allocated in a 1:1:1:1 ratio by computer-generated block randomisation to receive insulin degludec either once a day or three times a week or insulin glargine once a day, all in combination with metformin. Investigators were masked to data until database release. The primary outcome was HbA(1C) after 16 weeks of treatment. Analyses were done by intention to treat. This trial is registered with, number NCT00611884.

Findings: Of 367 patients screened, 245 were eligible for inclusion. 62 participants were randomly allocated to receive insulin degludec three times a week (starting dose 20 U per injection [1 U=9 nmol]), 60 to receive insulin degludec once a day (starting dose 10 U [1 U=6 nmol]; group A), 61 to receive insulin degludec once a day (starting dose 10 U [1 U=9 nmol]; group B), and 62 to receive insulin glargine (starting dose 10 U [1 U=6 nmol]) once a day. At study end, mean HbA(1C) levels were much the same across treatment groups, at 7·3% (SD 1·1), 7·4% (1·0), 7·5% (1·1), and 7·2% (0·9), respectively. Estimated mean HbA(1C) treatment differences from insulin degludec by comparison with insulin glargine were 0·08% (95% CI –0·23 to 0·40) for the three dose per week schedule, 0·17% (–0·15 to 0·48) for group A, and 0·28% (–0·04 to 0·59) for group B. Few participants had hypoglycaemia and the number of adverse events was much the same across groups, with no apparent treatment-specific pattern.

Interpretation: Insulin degludec provides comparable glycaemic control to insulin glargine without additional adverse events and might reduce dosing frequency due to its ultra-long action profile.

Funding: Novo Nordisk.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / analysis
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Injections, Subcutaneous
  • Insulin / administration & dosage
  • Insulin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Insulin Glargine
  • Insulin, Long-Acting / administration & dosage*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Young Adult


  • Blood Glucose
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin
  • Insulin, Long-Acting
  • Insulin Glargine

Associated data