Glucagon to treat severe hypoglycemia is available in a generic formula for the first time in 20 years.

Patients with diagnoses of diabetes mellitus are at risk for hypoglycemia (very low blood sugar), especially if they are insulin-users or their disease is not under control. The condition can come on suddenly and be deadly without treatment. The Food and Drug Administration last Monday approved the new drug, which comes in a 1-mg vial packaged in an emergency kit. 

Glucagon is a hormone that spurs the liver to quickly increase blood sugar levels. Generic glucagon is a synthetic version of human glucagon, the federal agency reported. The most common side effects tied to the drug are nausea and vomiting, a short-term increase in heart rate, and injection-site swelling.

“Today’s approval reflects the FDA’s continued commitment to advancing patient access to lower-cost, high-quality generic drug products that are as safe and effective as their brand name counterparts,” the FDA said Dec. 28.