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
Type Medication How it Works Possible 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)

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.


Main Menu

Review Date: 5/22/2007

Reviewed By: A.D.A.M. Editorial Team: Greg Juhn, M.T.P.W., David R. Eltz, Kelli A. Stacy. Previously reviewed by Alan Greene, M.D., F.A.A.P., Department of Pediatrics, Packard Children's Hospital, Stanford University School of Medicine; Chief Medical Officer, A.D.A.M., Inc (5/1/2006).

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

Related Links

Find a Doctor:





Request an Appointment Online or call
800-789-PENN (7366)
Endocrinology/Diabetes Services at Penn
Type 1 Diabetes Care Guide

Encyclopedia Articles:










About Penn Medicine   Contact Us   Site Map   Privacy Statement   Legal Disclaimer   Terms of Use

Penn Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 800-789-PENN © 2016, The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania space