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Type 2 diabetes drug index

New medications to treat type 2 diabetes are helping people obtain excellent blood glucose control. An important research study, The United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study, found that the people with the best blood glucose management had fewer complications from diabetes.

Some of the most common medications are listed below along with basic information on how they work. NEVER make any adjustments to your medications without specific instructions from your doctor or diabetes educator.

Medications for Treating Diabetes
TypeMedicationHow it WorksPossible Side Effects


Glyburide: Micronase Diabeta Glynase

Glipizide: Glucotrol Glucotrol XL

Glimepiride: Amaryl

Pancreas makes more insulin

Low blood sugar


Repaglinide: Prandin

Pancreas makes more insulin

Low blood sugar


Metformin: Glucophage

Improves insulin sensitivity

Causes the liver to make less glucose

Digestion disturbances; usually this side effect goes away after a few weeks; take medication with food to lessen effect of drug

Sulfonylurea/ Biguanide Combination

Glyburide/Metformin: Glucovance

Helps pancreas make more insulin

Causes the liver to make less glucose

Low blood sugar/stomach upset

Alpha-glucosidase Inhibitors

Acarbose: Precose

Miglitol: Glyset

Slows the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates

Gas & bloating

Thiazolidinediones (the glitazones)

Rosiglitazone: Avandia*

Pioglitazone: Actos

Decreases insulin resistance

Weight gain, mild edema (swelling)

Dipeptidyl peptidase IV antagonists

Sitagliptin: Januvia

Helps hormones from your intestine stimulate insulin release

Nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea

Incretin mimetics

Exenatide: Byetta

Behave like hormones produced by your instine that help the pancreas release insulin


Note: The bold names under the medication column are the generic names. The unbolded names are the trade names.

*Rosiglitazone may increase the risk of heart problems. Talk to your doctor.


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Review Date: 7/8/2012
Reviewed By: Nancy J. Rennert, MD, Chief of Endocrinology & Diabetes, Norwalk Hospital, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Previoulsy reviewed by Ari S. Eckman, MD, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. (5/13/2010)
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