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Glucagon (Glucagon Hydrochloride) - Summary



Glucagon for Injection (rDNA origin) is a polypeptide hormone identical to human glucagon that increases blood glucose and relaxes smooth muscle of the gastrointestinal tract. Glucagon is synthesized in a special non-pathogenic laboratory strain of Escherichia coli bacteria that has been genetically altered by the addition of the gene for glucagon.

For the treatment of hypoglycemia:

Glucagon is indicated as a treatment for severe hypoglycemia.

Because patients with type 1 diabetes may have less of an increase in blood glucose levels compared with a stable type 2 patient, supplementary carbohydrate should be given as soon as possible, especially to a pediatric patient.

For use as a diagnostic aid:

Glucagon is indicated as a diagnostic aid in the radiologic examination of the stomach, duodenum, small bowel, and colon when diminished intestinal motility would be advantageous.

Glucagon is as effective for this examination as are the anticholinergic drugs. However, the addition of the anticholinergic agent may result in increased side effects.






Make sure that your relatives or close friends know that if you become unconscious, medical assistance must always be sought. Glucagon may have been prescribed so that members of your household can give the injection if you become hypoglycemic and are unable to take sugar by mouth. If you are unconscious, glucagon can be given while awaiting medical assistance.

Show your family members and others where you keep this kit and how to use it. They need to know how to use it before you need it. They can practice giving a shot by giving you your normal insulin shots. It is important that they practice. A person who has never given a shot probably will not be able to do it in an emergency.


  • Act quickly. Prolonged unconsciousness may be harmful.
  • These simple instructions will help you give glucagon successfully.
  • Turn patient on his/her side to prevent patient from choking.
  • The contents of the syringe are inactive. You must mix the contents of the syringe with the glucagon in the accompanying bottle before giving injection. (See DIRECTIONS FOR USE below.)
  • Do not prepare Glucagon for Injection until you are ready to use it.


Use glucagon to treat insulin coma or insulin reaction resulting from severe hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Symptoms of severe hypoglycemia include disorientation, unconsciousness, and seizures or convulsions. Give glucagon if (1) the patient is unconscious (2) the patient is unable to eat sugar or a sugar-sweetened product (3) the patient is having a seizure, or (4) repeated administration of sugar or a sugar-sweetened product such as a regular soft drink or fruit juice does not improve the patient's condition. Milder cases of hypoglycemia should be treated promptly by eating sugar or a sugar-sweetened product. (See INFORMATION ON HYPOGLYCEMIA below for more information on the symptoms of hypoglycemia.) Glucagon is not active when taken orally.



  1. Remove the flip-off seal from the bottle of glucagon. Wipe rubber stopper on bottle with alcohol swab.
  2. Remove the needle protector from the syringe, and inject the entire contents of the syringe into the bottle of glucagon. DO NOT REMOVE THE PLASTIC CLIP FROM THE SYRINGE. Remove syringe from the bottle.
  3. Swirl bottle gently until glucagon dissolves completely. GLUCAGON SHOULD NOT BE USED UNLESS THE SOLUTION IS CLEAR AND OF A WATER-LIKE CONSISTENCY.

Use Same Technique as for Injecting Insulin

  1. Using the same syringe, hold bottle upside down and, making sure the needle tip remains in solution, gently withdraw all of the solution (1 mg mark on syringe) from bottle. The plastic clip on the syringe will prevent the rubber stopper from being pulled out of the syringe; however, if the plastic plunger rod separates from the rubber stopper, simply reinsert the rod by turning it clockwise. The usual adult dose is 1 mg (1 unit). For children weighing less than 44 lb (20 kg), give 1/2 adult dose (0.5 mg). For children, withdraw 1/2 of the solution from the bottle (0.5 mg mark on syringe). DISCARD UNUSED PORTION.


  1. Cleanse injection site on buttock, arm, or thigh with alcohol swab.
  2. Insert the needle into the loose tissue under the cleansed injection site, and inject all (or ½ for children weighing less than 44 lb) of the glucagon solution. THERE IS NO DANGER OF OVERDOSE. Apply light pressure at the injection site, and withdraw the needle. Press an alcohol swab against the injection site.
  3. Turn the patient on his/her side. When an unconscious person awakens, he/she may vomit. Turning the patient on his/her side will prevent him/her from choking.
  4. FEED THE PATIENT AS SOON AS HE/SHE AWAKENS AND IS ABLE TO SWALLOW. Give the patient a fast-acting source of sugar (such as a regular soft drink or fruit juice) and a long-acting source of sugar (such as crackers and cheese or a meat sandwich). If the patient does not awaken within 15 minutes, give another dose of glucagon and INFORM A DOCTOR OR EMERGENCY SERVICES IMMEDIATELY.
  5. Even if the glucagon revives the patient, his/her doctor should be promptly notified. A doctor should be notified whenever severe hypoglycemic reactions occur.


Early symptoms of hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) include:

  • sweating
  • dizziness
  • palpitation
  • tremor
  • hunger
  • restlessness
  • tingling in the hands, feet, lips, or tongue
  • lightheadedness
  • inability to concentrate
  • headache
  • drowsiness
  • sleep disturbances
  • anxiety
  • blurred vision
  • slurred speech
  • depressed mood
  • irritability
  • abnormal behavior
  • unsteady movement
  • personality changes

If not treated, the patient may progress to severe hypoglycemia that can include:

  • disorientation
  • unconsciousness
  • seizures
  • death

The occurrence of early symptoms calls for prompt and, if necessary, repeated administration of some form of carbohydrate. Patients should always carry a quick source of sugar, such as candy mints or glucose tablets. The prompt treatment of mild hypoglycemic symptoms can prevent severe hypoglycemic reactions. If the patient does not improve or if administration of carbohydrate is impossible, glucagon should be given or the patient should be treated with intravenous glucose at a medical facility. Glucagon, a naturally occurring substance produced by the pancreas, is helpful because it enables the patient to produce his/her own blood glucose to correct the hypoglycemia.


Severe side effects are very rare, although nausea and vomiting may occur occasionally.

A few people may be allergic to glucagon or to one of the inactive ingredients in glucagon, or may experience rapid heart beat for a short while.

If you experience any other reactions which are likely to have been caused by glucagon, please contact your doctor.

See all Glucagon indications & dosage >>


Published Studies Related to Glucagon

Acute effect on satiety, resting energy expenditure, respiratory quotient, glucagon-like peptide-1, free fatty acids, and glycerol following consumption of a combination of bioactive food ingredients in overweight subjects. [2013]
following a standardized mixed meal with or without single consumption of a CBFI... CONCLUSION: CBFI may therefore be of great value in the treatment of overweight

Effects of LX4211, a dual sodium-dependent glucose cotransporters 1 and 2 inhibitor, on postprandial glucose, insulin, glucagon-like peptide 1, and peptide tyrosine tyrosine in a dose-timing study in healthy subjects. [2013]
and tolerability of LX4211 in healthy subjects were also assessed... CONCLUSIONS: This clinical study indicates that dosing of LX4211 immediately

The effect of the once-daily human glucagon-like peptide 1 analog liraglutide on the pharmacokinetics of acetaminophen. [2011.08]
INTRODUCTION: Acetaminophen is a commonly used analgesic and antipyretic drug, and is frequently used to study gastric emptying. Due to its high permeability and high solubility, acetaminophen can be used as a pharmacologic model for medications with similar characteristics. The objective of this study was to assess the effect of liraglutide on the pharmacokinetics (PK) of acetaminophen in patients with type 2 diabetes... CONCLUSION: The overall exposure of acetaminophen following a 1 g dose was comparable for subjects taking liraglutide or placebo, and the clinical impact of the lower C(max) and delay in absorption of acetaminophen was considered to be transient and small, and without clinical relevance. No adjustment for acetaminophen is recommended when used concomitantly with liraglutide.

Glutamine reduces postprandial glycemia and augments the glucagon-like peptide-1 response in type 2 diabetes patients. [2011.07]
Impaired glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1) secretion or response may contribute to ineffective insulin release in type 2 diabetes...

A pilot study to assess whether glucagon-like peptide-1 protects the heart from ischemic dysfunction and attenuates stunning after coronary balloon occlusion in humans. [2011.06]
CONCLUSIONS: In this pilot study, infusion of GLP-1 has been demonstrated to reduce ischemic LV dysfunction after supply ischemia during coronary balloon occlusion in humans and mitigates stunning. The findings require confirmation in a larger scale clinical trial. CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION: URL: http://www.isrctn.org. Unique identifier: ISRCTN 77442023.

more studies >>

Clinical Trials Related to Glucagon

A Study of the Safety, Tolerability, Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamic Activity of Very Low Dose-Glucagon in Subjects With Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus [Completed]
The purpose of this study is to identify the safest dose of very low dose glucagon to prevent hypoglycemia in patients with Type I diabetes who use insulin pumps and to measure the the amount of glucagon in the blood and see how the body responds to the glucagon.

Influence of Glucagon Inhibition in Relation to the Anti-Diabetic Effect of Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 (GLP-1) in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus [Active, not recruiting]
Incretinbased treatment of patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) has increasing interest. The incretin glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) stimulates beta-cells to increased

secretion and production of insulin. Glucose sensitivity is enhanced, apoptosis inhibited -

progression in disease is potentially stopped. The alpha-cell is also influenced by GLP-1 as infusion lowers plasmaglucose (PG) levels in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) (C-peptide negative) by inhibition of glucagon and thereby decreased hepatic glucoseproduction (HGP). Further Vilsboll et al has proved normalization of the glacgonostatic effect of glucose in patients with T2DM. As an attempt to elucidate glucose-intolerance in patients with T2DM further Knop et al investigated the glucagonresponse to both oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) and a following iso-glycemic clamp. He saw a sufficient suppression of glucagon when glucose was introduced intravenously but the suppression of glucagon was attenuated and delayed when glucose was given orally.

The aim of this study is to elucidate the glucose intolerance further. Due to the complex interactions and mutual feed-back regulation between the pancreatic hormones and the PG level this protocol includes five days. All days include a euglycemic-clamp, patients with T2DM (n=10) are clamped at their fasting PG as are healthy control subjects (n=10). During the clamp either GLP-1 alone; GLP-1 in combination with somatostatin, insulin and glucagon; or somatostatin, insulin and glucagon are infused and blood samples are drawn.

The design of the study makes it possible to isolate the effect of each hormone. Further we will be able to enlighten the effect of GLP-1 on the increase in glucose turn-over it induces.

The essential part in this design will be hormone concentrations and the response parameter the amount of glucose (AUC) it takes to create the euglycemic-clamp.

Physiologic Response to Glucagon at Varying Insulin Levels [Recruiting]
The purpose of this research study is to test how different levels of insulin block the effect of glucagon. Insulin is a hormone that lowers blood glucose. Glucagon raises blood glucose. Both are natural hormones made by people without diabetes. Sensor-based blood glucose control studies have been done by our research group using glucagon in small doses to prevent hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). However, sometimes glucagon does not work to raise blood sugar. The investigators believe this is because of too much insulin in the body. This study will help determine how different levels of insulin in the body affect the ability of glucagon to raise blood sugar.

Safety and Efficacy of a Novel Glucagon Formulation in Type 1 Diabetic Patients Following Insulin-induced Hypoglycemia [Recruiting]
Hypoglycemia is common in people with type 1 diabetes. Mild and moderate hypoglycaemia is normally treated by consuming oral carbohydrates. During an episode of severe hypoglycaemia however, the person with diabetes is unable to consume carbohydrates and requires help from another person. The current standard treatment for severe hypoglycemia is intravenous glucose or an injection of glucagon, which causes an increase of blood glucose, which allows the person with diabetes to recover sufficiently to consume carbohydrate.

AMG Medical is investigating a novel formulation of glucagon which may be easier to administer than the currently available glucagon formulations.

In this study, patients with Type 1 diabetes will receive injected insulin to reduce their blood glucose, and will then receive one of three doses of the new glucagon formulation or a dose of glucagon for injection, and their blood glucose will be measured for 3 hours.

The study hypothesis is that the new glucagon formulation will be as effective as the current injected formulation at raising blood glucose levels within 15 minutes.

The Role of Amylin and Glucagon in T1DM [Completed]
The purpose of this study is to see if giving pramlintide and insulin before a meal would lower high blood sugar and if a glucagon (a naturally made hormone in the body but reduced in diabetes and its role is in prevention of low blood sugar) shot given in the late "after meal" time would prevent low blood sugar. The studies outlined in this proposal might help in developing new treatment options to target "after meal" high blood sugar and before meal low blood sugar in children. This would possibly help improve overall blood sugar control and prevent the long-term complications of diabetes.

more trials >>

Reports of Suspected Glucagon Side Effects

Pulmonary Oedema (7)Drug Interaction (4)Skin Ulcer (4)Dyspnoea (4)Cellulitis (4)International Normalised Ratio Increased (4)Wrong Technique in Drug Usage Process (3)Drug Dose Omission (2)Infection (2)Expired Drug Administered (2)more >>

Page last updated: 2014-11-30

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