Glucagon: Hyperglycemic Medication

Everyone with type 1 diabetes should carry glucagon.

What is glucagon?

Glucagon, a hormone produced by the pancreas, increases blood sugar levels. Glucagon is used to treat severe hypoglycemia, when a patient is unconscious.

There are two types of glucagon: injectable and nasal powder.

Injectable glucagon

Le-glucagon-une-medication-hyperglycemiante

There are two injectable glucagon kits on the market: Glucagon for Injection® and GlucaGen® HypoKit. Both kits contain a vial containing freeze-dried, powdered glucagon, and a syringe prefilled with a liquid (solvent). The solvent is mixed with the powder in the vial until the powder is completely dissolved. Once the solution in the vial is clear, it is drawn back into the syringe and then injected.

For adults, the total dose (1 mg) is injected. For children, half the dose is usually recommended, based on weight and age. The patient normally regains consciousness within 10 minutes of the injection. If not, call 911 or get the person to Emergency.

Below is a summary comparison of the two kits:

Glucagon for Injection® GlucaGen® HypoKit
Storage temperature (before reconstitution) 15 to 30 °C < 25 °C (lasts longer if kept between 2 °C and 8 °C)
Reconstituted solution Must be used immediately Must be used immediately
Child dose ½ dose if weight is < 20 kg ½ dose if weight is < 25 kg or if child is < 6 to 8 years old
Injection method Intramuscular or subcutaneous Intramuscular

Nasal powder glucagon

There is one type of nasal powder glucagon: BAQSIMI™. Unlike the glucagon injections, BAQSIMI™ is ready to use. It offers an easier way to treat a severe hypoglycemia in people living with diabetes treated with insulin. A severe hypoglycemia occurs when those people cannot treat themselves.

BAQSIMI™ is indicated in adults and children of at least 4 years old treated with insulin. The dose does not need to be inhaled so it is effective even if a person has a cold.

Inform family members and/or co-workers

If you live with diabetes and are at risk of severe hypoglycemia, you should ensure that family members and/or co-workers know how to administer glucagon. You need to tell them where the emergency glucagon kit is stored and be aware of its expiration date. Glucagon must be protected from freezing and light.

Research and text: Diabetes Québec Health Care Professionals Team

June 2014 (updated on april 2020)

©All rights reserved Diabetes Quebec

References :

Glucagon (product monograph). Toronto, ON: Eli Lilly Canada Inc .: 2012.

GlucaGen (glucagon) (product monograph). Mississauga, Ontario: Novo Nordisk: 2014