Diabetes Medications List

A diabetes medications list is helpful for understanding the various ways that diabetes can be treated as well as knowing the many different diabetes medication available. There are several different kinds of medications available to a person who has diabetes, but the medications and treatments depend on the Type of Diabetes as well as each individual’s needs and response to medications.

Type 1 Diabetes Medicines

Type 1 diabetes (juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes-IDDM) is when the body does not make insulin it needs and is usually diagnosed in children or young adults. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas produces little to no insulin, so every person with type 1 diabetes will eventually require insulin. There may be other types of medications that a person with type 1 diabetes will need to take help the body utilize insulin.

Type 2 Diabetes Medicines

Type 2 diabetes (adult-onset diabetes or noninsulin-dependent diabetes) is when the body isn’t using insulin as it needs to (insulin resistance) and it is the most common kind of diabetes. This is where a healthy diet and exercise are so important and can prevent or control diabetes type 2. However, if the body can’t keep up with the insulin needs, you may need to use various diabetes medications oral or insulin injections. Your doctor will work with you to find the best treatment for you –you may only need one medication or you may need a combination of medications. Many people start with Metformin –an oral diabetes medication.

Gestational Diabetes Medicines

If diabetes develops for the first time during pregnancy, then this is called Gestational diabetes. The stress and hormones of pregnancy can cause a shortage of insulin and gestational diabetes. Most pregnant women are able to control gestational diabetes with a strict diet and exercise. Some women will need some insulin to help control the blood sugar levels and keep them stable. This often resolves after pregnancy, but it can also trigger diabetes that needs to continue to be monitored and potentially treated with medications.

Other Types of Diabetes Medicines

Other rare forms of diabetes, sometimes called Type IV Diabetes, are associated with effects of drugs, hormonal changes and disease of the pancreas. This type of diabetes can be very different for each individual and so it will be important for a person who has this type of diabetes to work very closely with your doctor to figure out the best type of diabetes medications for you.

Types of Diabetes Medications

Diabetes medications can be oral as well as insulin injections. A person with diabetes may take a combination of oral medications and insulin injections.

Insulin Diabetes Medications List

Insulin shots are a well-known treatment for diabetes. Insulin cannot be given orally because it is a protein and would be digested by the stomach, so it must be injected into subcutaneous fat in the abdomen where it can be absorbed into the bloodstream. Insulin is produced synthetically or extracted from the pancreas of cows and pigs.

There are different kinds of insulin and they vary in how fast they act and how long they take to act (onset of action, time of peak effect and duration of action).

  • Rapid Acting: onset 5-15 minutes, peak 30-90 minutes, duration 2-5 hours. Examples: Novolog (Insulin Aspart), Apidra (Insulin Glulisine), + Humalog (Insulin Lispro)• Short Acting: onset 30-60 minutes, peak 2-5 hours, duration 5-8 hours. Examples: Humulin R, Novolin R (Regular Insulin)
  • Intermediate Acting: onset 1-3 hours, peak 6-12 hours, duration 16-24 hours. Examples: Humulin N, Novolin N (NPH Insulin)
  • Long Acting: onset 1 hour, Peakless, duration 20-28 hours. Examples: Levemir (Insulin Detemir), Lantus (Insulin Glargine)
  • Pre-mixed NPH + Regular –Intermediate + Short Acting: onset 30-60 minutes, peak Varies, duration 10-16 hours. Examples: Humulin 70/30, Novolin 70/30, Humulin 50/50
  • Pre-mixed Insulin Lispro Protamine + Insulin Lispro –Intermediate + Rapid Acting: onset 10-15 minutes, peak Varies, duration 10-16 hours. Examples: Humalog 75/25, Humalog 50/50
  • Pre-mixed Insulin Aspart Protamine + Insulin Aspart –Intermediate + Rapid Acting: onset 5-15 minutes, peak Varies, duration 10-16 hours. Examples: NovoLog 70/30Note: Exact time of onset, peak, and duration will depend on the various manufacturer.

Oral Diabetes Medications List:

1) Biguanides

Improves insulin’s ability to transport sugar into cells and prevents the liver from releasing too much stored carbs. It is often a drug many doctors prescribe at the start when a person is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Metformin is the only biguanide (trade names: Glucophage, Diabex, Diaformin, Fortamet, Riomet, Glumetza and others. Since metformin is now a generic drug there are many formulations including extended release forms).

2) Sulfonylureas

Stimulates the pancreas to release more insulin. This class of medication has improved over the years. Examples of sulfonylureas commonly used are Glipizide (Glucotrol- Intermediate acting), Glyburide (DiaBeta/ Micronase/Glynase- Intermediate acting), Glimepiride (Amaryl- Intermediate acting). Other examples are Chlorpropamide (Diabinese- Long acting), Acetohexamide (generic), Tolbutamide (generic- Short acting), Tolazamide (generic).

3) Meglitinides

These medications are taken 30 minutes prior to each meal. Similar to sulfonylureas, meglitinides stimulate the pancreas to release more insulin; however, unlike sulfonylureas that release insulin regardless of blood sugar levels, meglitinides only stimulate the release of insulin when blood sugar levels are high. This is why meglitinides will not cause hypoglycemia. Examples are Repaglinide (Prandin) and Nateglinide (Starlix).

4) Thiazolidinediones (Glitazones)

These medications help lower insulin resistance by allowing blood sugar to move into muscle cells for energy or fat cells for storage. The two medications in this class are pioglitazone (Avandia) and rosiglitazone (Actos).

5) Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors

These medications block enzymes that help digest starches –carbohydrates, which slows the rise in blood sugar. These medications include Acarbose (Precose) and Miglitol (Glyset).

6) Dipeptidyl peptidase IV (DPP-4) inhibitors

DPP-4 inhibitors stimulate hormones that, when blood sugar is high, does 2 things: 1) triggers pancreas to increase insulin secretion and 2) signals liver to reduce production of blood sugar. This drug is taken once a day and not usually used when a person is also taking insulin. Sitagliptin (Januvia) and saxagliptin are both DPP-IV inhibitors.

7) Exenatide (Byetta)

Byetta mimicks the hormone incretin’s actions and improves blood sugar control. When blood sugar is high, Byetta increases the release of insulin and signals the liver to reduce blood sugar production. Byetta also slows down food leaving the stomach and helps to prevent people from eating too much. Byeta is taken by injection twice a day.

Combination therapy of Diabetes Medications List

Sometimes medications work better together, so then they are combined to make a new medication. Here is a diabetes medications list of medications that combine 2 drugs:

  • Metaglip (glipizide and metformin)
  • Glucovance (glyburide and metformin)
  • Duetact (pioglitazone and glimepiride)
  • Actoplus Met (pioglitazone and metformin)
  • PrandiMet (repaglinide and metformin)
  • Avandaryl (rosiglitazone and glimepiride)
  • Avandamet (rosiglitazone and metformin)
  • Janumet (sitagliptin and metformin)

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