Drugs for Diabetes

We’ve never had so many pharmaceutical options for treating diabetes—12 different classes at last count.  Many classes have more than one drug.  All classes available in the U.S. are listed on this page.  Click below on the drug or class you’re interested in for a brief review.

How about this one?

Be aware that drugs have both generic and brand names.  For instance,  metformin—the generic name—is sold under the brand name of Glucophage, among others.  Complicating matters further is that generic and brand names vary from one country to the next.  I live in the U.S., so U.S. names are the ones I use.  I will always capitalize a brand name drug, but start generic names with lower case letters unless it’s the first word of a sentence.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is charged with approving drug as safe and effective, and monitoring ongoing safety once a drug is on the market.  Doctors commonly prescribe drugs for purposes not approved by the FDA.  However, for the purposes of this page, I’ve restricted my comments to FDA-approved uses.

I strive to be as accurate as possible in sharing drug information with you, but I cannot guarantee accuracy.  Anything I write today could be outdated tomorrow.  Talk to your personal physician, pharmacist, or other qualified professional for detailed, up-to-date drug information.  Please contact me by e-mail if you find any mistakes.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Drugs for Type 1 Diabetes

Insulins

Pramlintide:  Symlin

Drugs for Type 2 Diabetes

Metformin:  Glucophage, others

Sulfonylureas:  glipizide, glyburide, glimiperide, others

Thiazolidinediones:  rosiglitazone (Avandia), pioglitazone (Actos)

Dipeptidyl-peptidase -4 Inhibitors:  sitagliptin (Januvia), saxagliptin (Onglyza), linagliptin (Tradjenta), vildagliptin

GLP-1 Analogues:  exenatide (Byetta), liraglutide (Victoza), albiglutide (Tanzeum), dulaglutide (Trulicity), lixisenatide (Adlyxin)

Insulins

Alpha-glucosidase Inhibitors:  acarbose (Precose), miglitol (Glyset)

Meglitinides:  repaglinide (Prandin), nateglinide (Starlix)

Pramlintide:  Symlin

Colesevelam:  WelChol

Dopamine Receptor Agonist:  bromocriptine (Cycloset)

SGLT2 Inhibitors: canagliflozin, dapagliflozin, empagliflozin

Injectable Drugs for Diabetes

Insulins

 Pramlintide:  Symlin

 GLP-1 Analogues:  exenatide (Byetta), liraglutide (Victoza), albiglutide (Tanzeum), dulaglutide (Trulicity), lixisenatide (Adlyxin) 

Oral Drugs (taken by mouth) for Diabetes

Metformin:  Glucophage, others

Sulfonylureas:  glipizide, glyburide, glimiperide, others

Thiazolidinediones:  rosiglitazone (Avandia), pioglitazone (Actos)

Dipeptidyl-peptidase-4 Inhibitors:  sitagliptin (Januvia), saxagliptin (Onglyza), linagliptin (Tradjenta), vildagliptin

Alpha-glucosidase Inhibitors:  acarbose (Precose), miglitol (Glyset)

Meglitinides:  repaglinide (Prandin), nateglinide (Starlix)

Colesevelam:  WelChol

Dopamine Receptor Agonist:  bromocriptine (Cycloset)

SGLT2 Inhibitors: canagliflozin, dapagliflozin, empagliflozin

 

Last modification date:  July 29, 2016

3 responses to “Drugs for Diabetes

  1. I’ve been following your blog for a while, and have a question.

    I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes about 7 years ago. I was put on metformin and given the standard ADA diet recommendations. The diet confused me as it was more carbohydrate and less fat than I’d been eating, so I started doing some research. As a result, I went low carb (50 – 60g/day) and was able to stop taking the metformin. Fast forward to the end of last year — I got sloppy and experienced some serious carb creep and fasting blood gluose around 200 – 210mg/dL. My PCP put me back on metformin and added in Januvia when the metformin wasn’t cutting it. Around the same time I started eating Primal/Paleo at around 40 – 50g carb/day and getting a bit more exercise. My blood glucose dropped nicely. My A1c went from 7.7 at the beginning of December to 6.9 at the end of February (after 2 months Paleo).

    Then everything stalled. I cut the carbs back to 30 – 40g/day, and got no change. So I changed the only other thing — I stopped taking the metformin and Januvia. In the 12 days since then, My a.m. fasting glucose is down an average of 18 points, my pre-dinner levels down about 20 points and my 1 hour post-dinner (my main meal) down by about 10 points.

    Could it be that the medication was keeping my blood glucose levels higher than my diet and exercise routines would have it be? That seems odd, but I haven’t changed anything else in the past month or two. I’m not complaining, mind you, I’m doing better now than I have done in years.

    Have there been any studies done on diabetics who’ve normalised their blood glucose and given up medication to see how well they maintain after stopping medication?

    • Hello and welcome, JH Grace!
      I can’t explain your post-drug improved numbers at all. Very unexpected and counter-intuitive.
      Regarding type 2 diabetics who have normalized their blood sugars even after stopping drugs: Some have long-term success, some don’t. The problem is reversion to old ways of eating, genetic tendencies (altered metabolism), weight gain, and lowered activity levels. These latter two are part of the usual aging process. I can’t cite any studies; only 30 years experience treating diabetes.

      -Steve

  2. Thanks Steve, I guess I’ll have to be my own guinea pig.

    FWIW, my numbers are still getting better. I’m now consistently getting “pre-diabetic” numbers: My am fasting still suffers from the Dawn Effect — it was 116mg/dL this morning. Before meals I’m starting to get into the 90s, last night before dinner it was 86mg/dL — a personal best. 1 – 2 hours post-prandial I’m consistently getting 120-135mg/dL. That’s on 25 – 40g carb/day with not a lot of exercise. I walk about 3 – 5 miles a week, but that’s about it at the moment.

    My 62nd birthday is Memorial Day weekend. I’m feeling better, have more energy, better mental focus, and feel less stressed, than I have done in over 20 years.

    If I’d known I could feel this good, I’d have made these changes *before* I got the diagnosis of diabetes.

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