All About Gvoke HypoPen®
This article was made possible with support from Xeris Pharmaceuticals, an active partner of Beyond Type 1 at the time of publication.
Glucagon is a hormone produced by the pancreas. While beta cells produce insulin, alpha cells produce glucagon. Insulin lowers blood sugar levels while glucagon raises blood sugar levels to prevent low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
Glucagon raises your blood sugar by telling your liver to release its stored sugar (also known as glycogen) into your bloodstream.
People with diabetes have “dysfunctional glucagon secretion” which means your risk of experiencing a severe low blood sugar is high if you take insulin or medications that lower blood sugar levels. Left untreated, low blood sugars can lead to a cognitive impairment, seizure, coma and death.
Why do I need emergency glucagon?
Emergency glucagon is one of the most important tools for anyone with diabetes in case of severe low blood sugars. This rapid delivery of glucagon can prevent a seizure, coma, or death.
Examples of when you might need emergency glucagon:
- You accidentally overdose insulin.
- You are unable to swallow safely.
- You’ve treated the low with food or drink but it isn’t working.
- You are vomiting repeatedly and cannot keep food or drink down.
- You feel as though you might pass out.
- You are unconscious or seizing.
Most often, emergency glucagon is administered by a friend or family member, given to the person with diabetes experiencing the severe low.
What is HypoPen®?
Gvoke HypoPen® from Xeris Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a ready-to-inject form of glucagon. It contains room temperature, liquid-stable glucagon that is auto-injected by simply pressing the device firmly against your body, much like an EpiPen. It can raise your blood sugar rapidly by telling your liver to release stored glucose into your bloodstream, potentially saving your life.
Older emergency glucagon kits required the user to mix two ingredients together, then draw that mixed solution into a syringe, then inject it into the muscle of a person experiencing severe hypoglycemia. During the stress of severe hypoglycemia, these older glucagon kits can be overwhelming and confusing.
Gvoke® comes in two options: HypoPen® or a pre-filled syringe (PFS). Both are available in two doses:
- 0.5 mg/0.1mL for children
- 1 mg/0.2mL for adolescents and adults
Conveniently, Gvoke® comes in a two-pack, making it easy to store in two places, like next to your bed and at your office, or in your child’s backpack.
How fast does Gvoke® work?
In clinical trials. Gvoke® worked in less than 14 min on average to bring blood glucose back to safe levels.
Where is it available?
Gvoke HypoPen® is available in pharmacies in the U.S. Contact your doctor for a prescription. Eligible commercially insured patients may pay as little as $25 for Gvoke with this Copay Card.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this resource said that Gvoke HypoPen® was available in Canada, which is not yet the case.
Are there any side-effects?
The most common side-effects of premixed glucagon include:
- Swelling at the injection site
Read more about the serious side-effects of Gvoke® here.
Who should not use Gvoke HypoPen®?
You should not use glucagon if:
- you have a tumor in the gland on top of your kidneys (adrenal gland), called a pheochromocytoma
- you have a tumor in your pancreas, called either an insulinoma or a glucagonoma
- you are allergic to glucagon or any other inactive ingredient in Gvoke®
What else should I know about Gvoke HypoPen®?
- Teach your friends and family how and when to use Gvoke®
- Each Gvoke® device contains one dose of premixed glucagon and cannot be reused.
- After administering premixed glucagon, call for medical help right away. If the person is unconscious, turn them on their side. Once they’re conscious, encourage them to eat or drink fast-acting sugars such as juice, fruit snacks, or crackers.
- Do not tamper with the device until you absolutely need to use it.
- Replace your Gvoke® device before the expiration date printed on the device.