Type 2 Diabetes Medications

While some people with Type 2 Diabetes are able to manage their blood sugar with diet and exercise alone many other people require diabetes medications or insulin therapy to keep their blood sugar levels in line.

You doctor will be able to prescribe the best medication or medications as there are many options on the market and there are several factors to consider before taking one over another or even combining medications.

So you are better informed when visiting your doctor here is an overview of different types of medications, how they work and some common brand names they go by.

Here are some medication treatment options for Type 2 Diabetes.

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Metformin

Metformin is usually the first medication prescribed for Type 2 Diabetes. It works by lowering glucose production in the liver and help increase the bodies sensitivity to insulin. It is an oral diabetes medication and the starting treatment along with diet and exercise to help get the bodies blood glucose levels under control.

For patients that continue to have problems with their diabetes they will often need to move to other oral or injectable medications to get their blood sugar levels under control

GLP-1 Receptor Agonists

These are injectable diabetes medications that work by slowing digestion which can help to level out and lower blood sugar levels. As these medications slow digestion they are also associated with general weight loss.

Some examples of GLP-1 Receptor agonists are:
• Exenatide - brand names Byetta and Bydureon,
• Liraglutide - brand name Victoza
• Semaglutide - brand name Ozempic
To review common side effects and risk please read the information specific to each of these medications provided on their websites. Also consult with your doctor.

DPP-4 Inhibitors

These are a relatively new class of oral diabetes medications that work by blocking the enzyme dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) [1]. These medications are usually a second option for people who have not responded well to metformin and sulphonylureas.

Some examples of DPP-4 Inhibitors are:
• Sitagliptin - brand name Januvia
• Vidagliptin - brand name Galvus
• Saxagliptin - brand name Onglyza
• Linagliptin – brand name Tradjenta
To review common side effects and risk please read the information specific to each of these medications provided on their websites. Also consult with your doctor.

Sulfonylureas

Sulfonylureas work by helping the body secrete more insulin. Some examples of these medications are:
• Glyburide – brand names DiaBeta and Glynase
• Glipzide – brand name Glucotrol
• Glimepiride – brand name Amaryl
Possible side effects include weight gain and low blood sugar so it is important to speak to your doctor to see if Sulfonylureas are right for you.

Meglitinides

Meglitinides also work by increasing insulin production from the pancreas. They are a faster acting medication but don’t last as long in the body. Some examples of these medications are:
• Repaglinide – brand name Prandin
• Nateglinide – brand name Starlix
As with sulfonylureas possible side effects include weight gain and low blood sugar due to the increased insulin production.

Thiazolidinediones

These diabetes medications work by increasing the bodies sensitivity to insulin making insulin more effective at lowering blood sugar in the body. However, unlike metformin more serious side effects such as heart failure and anemia have been linked with thiazolidinediones and so they are less often prescribed and generally are not a first choice for managing diabetes today.

Costs of Diabetes Medications

The American Diabetets Association (ADA) estimates that on average people with diabetes spend an average of $16,752 per year on medical expenditures and about $9600 of that is attributed to their diabetes from testing supplies to medications and treating other complications [2].