• Type 1 diabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Other drugs
  • Takeaway

Doctors prescribe different medications to manage type 1 and 2 diabetes. Your diagnosis and health are essential factors that can affect your treatment.

Types of Diabetes MedicinesThis video shows you the different types of diabetes medications. Volume 0% 


The Food and Drug Administration Trusted Source recommended in May 2020 that extended-release metformin manufacturers be removed from the U.S. Market. Extended-release metformin tablets contained an unacceptable amount of a possible carcinogen (cancer-causing substance). Call your healthcare provider if you are currently taking this drug. You will be advised by your healthcare professional if you should continue taking the medication or if you require a new prescription.

Diabetes refers to a condition where the body has high levels of sugar glucose.

This happens when the body is unable to make or use insulin as it should. Insulin is a hormone that your body uses to make sugar from the foods you eat.

There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes. Both types of diabetes require medication to manage blood sugar levels.

Your type of diabetes will determine the medications you need. Find out more about the treatment options available.

Type 1 Diabetes Medications

Type 1 diabetes means that your body cannot make its insulin. Treatment is designed to replace insulin your pancreas cannot make.


Insulin is the most commonly used type 1 diabetes medication. In the United States, there are more than 20 types.

It can be given under the skin with the help of an insulin pump or as an injectable.

There are many types of insulin. They differ in how fast they work, how long they last, and whether they are peak-active.

Your body’s insulin sensitivity and severity will determine the type of insulin you require. These include:

Short-acting insulin:

Short-acting or regular insulin can reach the bloodstream within 30 minutes. Peak levels may occur between 2 and 3 hours later. These injections can also be for up to 3-6 hours.

There are many types of regular insulin:

  • Humulin R U-100
  • Novolin R FlexPen
  • Novolin R ReliOn
  • Novolin R FlexPen ReliOn

Rapid-acting insulin:

A rapid-acting insulin is a type of insulin that works for 15 minutes. The medication lasts 2 to 4 hours and has a peak time of 1 to 2 hours.

Several types of insulin can be used quickly, including:

  • inhaled insulin (Afrezza)
  • insulin aspart (Fiasp, Fiasp FlexTouch, Fiasp PenFill, NovoLog, NovoLog FlexPen, NovoLog FlexTouch, NovoLog PenFill, ReliOn NovoLog, ReliOn NovoLog FlexPen)
  • Insulin glulisine (Apidra SoloStar, Apidra SoloStar) is only available as a brand-name drug
  • insulin lispro (Admelog, Admelog SoloStar, Humalog, Humalog KwikPen, Humalog Junior KwikPen)
  • insulin lispro-aabc (Lyumjev, Lyumjev KwikPen)

Intermediate-acting insulin:

Intermediate-acting insulin is active for 2-4 hours after use, with an average peak of 12 hours. This type of insulin can last between 12-18 hours.

Examples include:

  • insulin isophane (Humulin N U-100, Humulin N KwikPen, Novolin N, Novolin N FlexPen, Novolin N ReliOn, Novolin N FlexPen ReliOn)

Long-acting insulin:

Insulin that lasts for a long time helps lower blood sugar levels. It can be used for up to 24 hrs or more. Also, it is more slowly absorbed into your bloodstream.

There are many types of long-acting insulin available:

  • insulin degludec (Tresiba, Tresiba FlexTouch)
  • insulin detemir (Levemir)
  • insulin glargine (Basaglar KwikPen, Lantus, Lantus SoloStar, Toujeo SoloStar, Toujeo Max SoloStar)
  • insulin glargine-yfgn (Semglee-yfgn)
  • concentrated regular insulin (Humulin R U-500, Humulin R U-500 KwikPen)

Combination (premixed) insulins:

  • Insulin aspart protamine/insulinapart 70/30 (NovoLog mix 70/30 FlexPen),
  • insulin isophane/regular insulin 70/30 (Humulin 70/30, Humulin 70/30 KwikPen, Novolin 70/30, Novolin 70/30 FlexPen, Novolin 70/30 FlexPen ReliOn)
  • insulin lispro protamine/insulin lispro 50/50 (Humalog Mix 50/50, Humalog Mix 50/50 KwikPen)
  • insulin lispro protamine/insulin lispro 75/25 (Humalog Mix 75/25, Humalog Mix 75/25 KwikPen)

Injectables that are amylinomimetic

Pramlintide (SymlinPen) is an amylinomimetic. It is an injectable medication used prior to meals.

It delays the time it takes for your stomach to empty itself. It also decreases the release of the hormone glucagon following meals. These actions can lower blood sugar.

Pramlintide also reduces appetite.

Type 2 Diabetes Treatments

If you have type two diabetes, your body produces insulin but does not use it as well. Your body does not have enough insulin to maintain your sugar levels in an optimal range.

Your treatment aims to improve insulin utilization or reduce excess glucose levels.

The majority of medications used for type 2 diabetes include oral drugs. Insulin or injectables can also be used. These medications may contain multiple diabetes drugs.


Insulin may be required for type 2 diabetes patients. You can use the same insulin to treat type 1 diabetes as you can for type 2 diabetes.

A doctor may recommend the following insulin types for type 1 diabetes treatment. This depends on what type of insulin you need and how severe your insulin deficiencies are. Talk to a doctor about the different types of insulin.

Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors

These medications aid in the digestion of starchy foods and table sugar. This reduces blood sugar levels.

These medications will not cause low blood sugar if taken according to prescription. If you combine them with other diabetes medications, however, the risk of hypoglycemia could be higher.

Take alpha-glucosidase inhibitors before you eat to get the best results. These medications include:

  • acarbose
  • miglitol (Glyset)


Biguanides reduce the amount of glucose your liver produces. They reduce the amount of glucose your liver absorbs, increase your body’s ability to absorb glucose, and make you more sensitive to insulin.

Metformin is the most commonly used biguanide (Glumetza and Riomet, Riomet ER).

Metformin is the most frequently trusted Source prescribed oral drug for type 2 diabetics. It can be used in combination with other type 2 medications. It is an ingredient in these medications:

  • metformin-alogliptin (Kazano)
  • metformin-canagliflozin (Invokamet)
  • metformin-dapagliflozin (Xigduo XR)
  • metformin-empagliflozin (Synjardy)
  • metmorfin-ertugliflozin (Segurometal)
  • metformin-glipizide
  • metformin-glyburide (Glucovance)
  • metformin-linagliptin (Jentadueto, Jentadueto XR)
  • metformin-pioglitazone (Actoplus Met, Actoplus Met XR)
  • metformin-repaglinide (PrandiMet)
  • metformin-rosiglitazone (Avandamet)
  • metformin-saxagliptin (Kombiglyze XR)
  • metformin-sitagliptin (Janumet, Janumet XR)

Dopamine-2 agonist

Bromocriptine is a dopamine-2 antagonist.

It has yet to be discovered how this drug treats type 2. It can alter your body’s rhythms and prevent insulin resistance. According to one 2015 ReviewTrusted Source, dopamine-2 antagonists may also help with other health issues such as high cholesterol and weight management.

Dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors

DPP-4 inhibitors can be used to reduce blood sugar levels without causing hypoglycemia.

DPP-4 Inhibitors Block Trusted Source The DPP-4 enzyme. This enzyme damages a hormone called Incretin. It usually aids your body in producing insulin when it is needed. When your body does not require it, incretins can also reduce glucose production from the liver.

These drugs may also be used to help the pancreas produce more insulin.

These are examples of DPP-4 inhibitors:

  • Nesina alogliptin
  • alogliptin-metformin (Kazano)
  • linagliptin (Tradjenta)
  • linagliptin-empagliflozin (Glyxambi)
  • linagliptin-metformin (Jentadueto, Jentadueto XR)
  • saxagliptin (Onglyza)
  • saxagliptin-metformin (Kombiglyze XR)
  • sitagliptin (Januvia)
  • sitagliptin-metformin (Janumet and Janumet XR)
  • sitagliptin, simvastatin (Juvisync).

Glucagon-like peptide-1 agonists (GLP-1 agonists).

GLP-1 receptor agonists can be used in the same way as Incretin. They may also be prescribed a diet and exercise program to improve glycemic control.

They can increase insulin use and pancreatic beta-cell growth. They reduce your appetite and the amount of glucagon that your body uses. They slow down stomach emptying, which can increase nutrient absorption from foods you eat. This could help trusted sources lose or maintain weight.

These are essential steps for people with diabetes.

Some people may have atherosclerotic heart disease, kidney failure, or chronic renal disease. The American Diabetes Association recommends using specific GLP-1 receptor agonists in these cases.

These drugs include:

  • dulaglutide (Trulicity).
  • exenatide (Byetta)
  • Bydureon CSise – Exenatide Extended-Release
  • liraglutide (Saxenda, Victoza)
  • lixisenatide (Adlyxin)
  • semaglutide (Ozempic)
  • tirzepatide (Manjaro)


These medications can help you release insulin. These medications are not for everyone. They may cause blood sugar to drop too much in some cases, particularly if you haveTrustedSource advanced renal disease.

These drugs include:

  • Starlix nateglinide
  • repaglinide (Prandin)

Sodium-glucose transporter (SGLT) 2 inhibitors

The sodium-glucose transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors prevent the kidneys from holding onto glucose. Instead, the glucose is eliminated by your kidneys.

The ADA recommends SGLT2 inhibitors in atherosclerotic heart disease, chronic kidney disease, and heart failure cases. Examples include trusted Sources:

  • canagliflozin (Invokana)
  • canagliflozin-metformin (Invokamet, Invokamet XR)
  • dapagliflozin (Farxiga)
  • dapagliflozin-metformin (Xigduo XR)
  • dapagliflozin-saxagliptin (Qtern)
  • empagliflozin (Jardiance)
  • empagliflozin-linagliptin (Glyxambi)
  • empagliflozin-linagliptin-metformin (Trijardy XR)
  • empagliflozin-metformin (Synjardy, Synjardy XR)
  • ertugliflozin (Steglatro)


These are the oldest trusted Sources of diabetic drugs still being used today. These drugs stimulate the pancreas by using beta cells. This stimulates your body to produce more insulin.

These drugs include:

  • glimepiride (Amaryl)
  • glimepiride-pioglitazone (Duetact)
  • gliclazide
  • glipizide
  • glipizide ER (Glipizide XL, Glucotrol XL)
  • glipizide-metformin
  • glyburide (Glynase)
  • glyburide-metformin


Thiazolidinediones reduce glucose levels in the liver. They can also improve insulin use in fat cells by targeting insulin resistanceTrusted Source.

These drugs can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Your doctor will monitor your heart function if you are prescribed one of these drugs.

There are many options:

  • rosiglitazone
  • pioglitazone-alogliptin (Oseni)
  • pioglitazone-glimepiride (Duetact)
  • pioglitazone-metformin (Actoplus Met, Actoplus Met XR)

Other drugs

Type 1 and 2 diabetics often require additional medications to manage conditions similar to diabetes.

These drugs can be: Trusted Source

  • Aspirin for Heart Health
  • High cholesterol medications
  • High blood pressure medication

Talk to a doctor

Many medications can be used to treat type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Each one works in a different way to control your blood sugar.

Ask your doctor what diabetes drug is best for you. Based on your type of diabetes, your health, and other factors, they will recommend the best drug for you. You should also know that new diabetes medications are being constantly reviewed for approval.

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