What is glucagon?
Glucagon is a hormone produced by the pancreas that, along with insulin, controls the level of glucose in the blood. Glucagon has the opposite effect of insulin. It increases the glucose levels in blood. Glucagon, the drug, is a synthetic (man-made) version of human glucagon and is manufactured by genetic engineering using the bacteria Escherichia coli.
Is glucagon available as a generic drug?
Do I need a prescription for glucagon?
What are the side effects of glucagon?
Nausea and vomiting may occur occasionally after injection of glucagon, but this may be a symptom of the hypoglycemia for which glucagon is being given. Rare allergic-type reactions may occur with glucagon including itching, respiratory distress, or low blood pressure.
Glucagon should not be administered to hypoglycemic patients who are also experiencing starvation, adrenal insufficiency or are suffering from chronic hypoglycemia. These medical conditions may be associated with an inability of the liver to produce glucose sufficiently in response to glucagon. For these patients, oral glucose is more effective if the patient is conscious. If the patient is not conscious, intravenous glucose should be given.
What is the dosage for glucagon?
For hypoglycemia, adults and children weighing 44 pounds or more should receive 1 mg (1 unit) of glucagon from the glucagon emergency kit either intravenously, subcutaneously or intramuscularly. Children weighing less than 44 pounds should receive 0.5 mg (0.5 units) of glucagon or an amount equal to 20-30 micrograms per kilogram or 0.009-0.014 milligrams per pound.
When using GlucaGen® the dose for adults and children weighing more than 25 kg (55 pounds) is 1 mg given intravenously, subcutaneously or intramuscularly. Children weighing less than 25 kg should receive 0.5 ml. If weight is unknown children 6 years of age and older should receive 1 ml and children younger than 6 years of age should receive 0.5 ml.
Before injecting, the mixture should appear clear and free of any floating particles. It should not be used if it is discolored. Once glucagon is administered, blood glucose measurements should be obtained until the patient is no longer experiencing hypoglycemic symptoms. Intravenous or oral glucose should be given to help restore glucose levels in the body and prevent further hypoglycemia. A physician should be notified immediately after a hypoglycemic episode to consider a change in the dose of drug being used to treat the diabetes in order to prevent further episodes of hypoglycemia.
Which drugs or supplements interact with glucagon?
Glucagon may increase the anticoagulant effect of warfarin (Coumadin) and other anticoagulants causing an increase in the slow clotting of blood and a greater risk of developing an episode of bleeding. Careful monitoring is necessary when glucagon is given to people wore also being treated with anticoagulants.
Insulin reverses the effect of glucagon.
Glucagon should not be given with anticholinergic drugs due to increased risk of stomach and intestine-related side effects.
What else should I know about glucagon?
What preparations of glucagon are available?
Glucagon is available as an emergency kit.
- The kit contains freeze-dried glucagon as a powder for injection 1 ml syringe of diluent.
- The powder contains 1 mg (1 unit) of glucagon and 49 mg of lactose.
- The diluent contains 12 mg/ml of glycerine, water for Injection, and hydrochloric acid. The diluent is mixed with the glucagon powder prior to injection.
- GlucaGen Hypokit® and GlucaGen Diagnostic Kit® have 1 vial containing 1 mg (1 unit) of glucagon powder and a disposable syringe containing 1 ml sterile water for reconstitution (mixing). Glucagon is also available in a 10-pack containing ten 1 mg vials of glucagon.
How should I keep glucagon stored?
The glucagon emergency kit and GlucaGen® should be stored at room temperature, 20 C to 25 C (68 F to 77 F) prior to mixing with diluent (glycerin or sterile water). Once mixed with diluent, the prepared drug should be used immediately.
How does glucagon work?
Glucagon is used to increase the blood glucose level in severe hypoglycemia (low blood glucose). Glucagon is a glucose-elevating drug. Other glucose-elevating drugs are glucose itself and diazoxide (Proglycem). In diabetic patients, low blood glucose (hypoglycemia) may occur from an unintended excess of injected insulin or oral glucose-lowering medication, such as a sulfonylurea like glipizide (Glucotrol), that are being used to treat diabetes. Hypoglycemia also may occur as a result of insufficient caloric intake or sudden, excessive physical exertion. Symptoms of hypoglycemia include:
In any hypoglycemic situation, efforts should be made to raise the glucose level in the blood. Glucagon raises blood glucose levels by preventing the liver from storing glucose, increasing glucose formation in the liver from dietary proteins and fats, and increasing the release of glucose from the liver into blood. Glucagon transiently paralyzes the muscles of the intestines and occasionally is used during testing that requires the intestines to be flaccid, for example, endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography and barium enema.
When was glucagon approved by the FDA?
The FDA approved glucagon in November 1960.
Glucagon, glucagon recombinant (GlucaGen, Glucagon Emergency Kit) is a glucagon emergency kit prescribed to treat severe hypoglycemia in patients with diabetes. It is alos used for radiologic examiniations. Side effects, drug interactions, storage, dosage, and pregnancy safety information should be reviewed prior to administering this medication.
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosis, Treatment, Medication
Learn about type 2 diabetes warning signs, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options. Read how diet and exercise can help manage...
Diabetes Diet: Healthy Meal Plans for Diabetes-Friendly Eating
Discover the best and worst meals for diabetes-savvy dining. See how to avoid carbs and control your blood sugar with healthier...
How Diabetes Can Affect Your Feet
Learn more about diabetes related foot problems. For people with diabetes, too much glucose in the blood can cause serious foot...
Diabetes Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
Take the Diabetes Quiz and learn the causes, signs, symptoms, and types of this growing epidemic. What does diabetes have to do...
Type 1 Diabetes: What Are The Symptoms?
What is type 1 diabetes? Is there a cure for type 1 diabetes? Learn about type 1 diabetes symptoms, warning signs, causes, and...
Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy: Improve Diabetes Nerve Pain
Read about diabetic peripheral neuropathy and exercises to manage nerve pain. Learn how to cope with the symptoms of diabetic...
Blood Sugar Swings: Tips for Managing Diabetes & Glucose Levels
Learn to better control your glucose levels by preventing blood sugar swings. Beware of caffeine, sugary foods, spices, exercise,...
Pictures of Famous People With Diabetes
See pictures of celebrities that have been diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes including Mary Tyler Moore, Salma Hayek, and...
Diabetes Management Tips and Preventing Complications
Learn 10 simple ways to better manage your diabetes. See tips for controlling blood sugar, diet and exercise and other helpful...
Pictures of 10 Muscle-Building Exercises for Diabetes
Watch this slideshow on Diabetes and Exercise. If you have diabetes, see how strengthening your muscles with these 10 weight...
Related Disease Conditions
Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2)
Diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. The two types of diabetes are...
Diabetes Treatment (Type 1 and Type 2 Medications and Diet)
The major goal in treating diabetes is controlling elevated blood sugar without causing abnormally low levels of blood sugar....
Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia)
Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, is a syndrome in which a person's blood sugar is dangerously low. People with type 1 and type 2...
Tips for Managing Type 1 and 2 Diabetes at Home
Managing your diabetes is a full time commitment. The goal of diabetic therapy is to control blood glucose levels and prevent the...
Diabetes: Caring for Your Diabetes at Special Times
Taking care of a disease such as diabetes is a life-long process. Learn how to care for yourself or loved one with diabetes in...
Treatment & Diagnosis
- Diabetes FAQs
- Drugs: Buying Prescription Drugs Online Safely
- Drugs: The Most Common Medication Errors
- How To Reduce Your Medication Costs
- Pharmacy Visit, How To Get The Most Out of Your Visit
- Indications for Drugs: Approved vs. Non-approved
- Medication Disposal
- Dangers of Mixing Medications
- Generic Drugs, Are They as Good as Brand-Names?
Medications & Supplements
Prevention & Wellness
- FDA OKs New Injectable Type 2 Diabetes Medication
- Diabetes Drug Victoza May Help the Heart: Study
- Sleepless Nights Might Raise Women's Type 2 Diabetes Risk
- Nasal Spray May Give Diabetics Faster Treatment for Low Blood Sugar
- Artificial Pancreas Works Well in Home Trial
- Health Tip: Controlling Diabetes During Hot Weather
- New Weight Loss Drug Saxenda: FAQ
- Combo Diabetes Therapy Outperforms Other Treatments, Study Finds
- 'Bionic Pancreas' Improves Blood Sugar Control for People With Type 1 Diabetes
- Tanzeum Approved for Type 2 Diabetes
- Newest Diabetes Drugs Linked to Higher Pancreatitis Risk
- New Diabetes Drugs Have Different Advantages, Study Says
- More Progress Made on Artificial Pancreas for Diabetes Patients
- Mouse Study Hints at New Path for Diabetes Treatment
- Diabetes Medications May Double as Weight Loss Drugs
- Health Tip: Diabetics, Pack Smart for Holiday Travel
- Type 2 Diabetes Treatment Victoza Helps Type 1, Too
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
FDA Prescribing Information