Diabetes Medications

Medications work in combination with diet and exercise to control high blood sugar levels. This is a brief overview of common medications for individuals living with Type 2 diabetes. Your doctor will prescribe your medications and your pharmacist will guide you through the proper dosage and instructions for your specific needs.

Medication Name How It Works Format Possible Side Effects
Exenatide (Byetta®), Liraglutide (Victoza®) Hormone that helps the body make more insulin, lowers the amount of sugar made by the liver and reduces the appetite Injection
  • Nausea upon introduction
  • Rarely, a more serious illness such as pancreatitis may occur; if you have severe abdominal pain, stop taking the medication and call your doctor
  • Weight loss
Glargine (Lantus®) Long-acting form of insulin that removes sugar from the blood for 24 hours Injection
  • Low blood sugar
  • Weight gain
Glyburide, Glimeperide or Glipizide Increases the amount of insulin made by the pancreas Pill
  • Long-acting versions cause less low blood sugar
  • Low blood sugar (less than 70 mg/dl)
Metformin (Glucophage®) Lowers the amount of sugar made by the liver Pill
  • Loose stools
  • Upset stomach
  • Weight loss
Pioglitazone (Actos®) Helps the body use the insulin Pill
  • Fluid retention
  • Weight gain (mild)
Sitigliptin (Januvia®), Saxagliptin (Onglyza®), Linagliptin (Tradjenta®) Helps the body to make more insulin at mealtimes Pill
  • Similar to placebo

You may also be prescribed other medications to help lower the risk of complications. These include statin drugs such as simvastatin, lovastatin and atorvastatin, which lower LDL cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes, but can cause muscle pain. ACE inhibitor drugs such as lisinopril, benazepril or ramipril lower blood pressure and protect the kidneys but can cause a dry cough.

For More Information
To learn more about Sharp's diabetes services or to find a Sharp-affiliated doctor, search for a San Diego endocrinologist or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm. To find general information about diabetes, visit Diabetes Care in Adult Health or read the Diabetes News archive.