Intensifying insulin therapy: what options are available to patients with type 2 diabetes?

Am J Med. 2013 Sep;126(9 Suppl 1):S28-37. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2013.06.011.


The progressive nature of type 2 diabetes (T2D) requires practitioners to periodically evaluate patients and intensify therapy when glycemic targets become unattainable with their current treatment regimen. Traditional first- and second-line antidiabetic agents such as metformin and the sulfonylureas do not prevent the characteristic decline in beta-cell function associated with T2D; insulin replacement therapy can therefore quickly become a necessity in some patients. Basal insulin initiation provides an excellent platform to which rapid-acting prandial insulin doses can easily be added, potentially in a stepwise manner, as disease progresses. Premix insulin regimens are another effective intensification option following basal insulin initiation, but are most effective in insulin-naïve patients. The use of insulin in combination with modern T2D agents, such as the incretin-based therapies, has the potential to improve glycemic control while limiting insulin-associated weight gain and hypoglycemia. Further clinical data and approval are required before practitioners can fully endorse this novel approach.

Keywords: Basal insulin intensification; Basal plus insulin therapy; Basal-bolus therapy; hypoglycemia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Fasting
  • Glycated Hemoglobin / analysis
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Insulin / administration & dosage
  • Insulin / therapeutic use*
  • Insulin Detemir
  • Insulin Glargine
  • Insulin, Long-Acting / administration & dosage
  • Insulin, Long-Acting / therapeutic use*


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