As the number of people living with type 2 diabetes (T2D) continues to rise, managing their complex needs presents an increasing challenge to physicians. While treatment guidelines provide evidence-based guidance, they are not prescriptive—rather they emphasize individualization of management based on a patient’s clinical needs and preferences. Physicians, therefore, need to be fully aware of the advantages and disadvantages of the multiple and increasing treatment options available to them at each stage of the disease. The progressive nature of T2D means that treatment with basal insulin will become inevitable for many patients, while for some patients basal insulin alone will eventually be insufficient for maintaining glycemic targets. Recent guidelines recommend two basic approaches for intensifying basal insulin: the use of rapid-acting insulin, either as additional prandial injections or as part of premix (biphasic) insulin; and the addition of glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 RAs) to the insulin therapy, which can be administered via subcutaneous injection once or twice daily, or weekly depending on formulation. More recently, two fixed-ratio combinations of basal insulin and a GLP-1 RA that allow for once-daily dosing have been approved. Each of these approaches has potential benefits and drawbacks, particularly in terms of risk for hypoglycemia, weight change, convenience, and side effects. Understanding these differences is central to guiding patient and physician choice. This article discusses the rationale, advantages, disadvantages, and implementation of currently available strategies for basal insulin treatment intensification in patients with T2D.
Funding: Sanofi US, Inc.