Medicines for Type 2 Diabetes

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Nov 15, 2011

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Type 2 diabetes can be controlled with medications taken by mouth (oral medications) or injected medicine (usually insulin, although insulin is not the only injected medicine that can be used for diabetes). Medicines for type 2 diabetes include:

  • Metformin (Glucophage), which improves insulin resistance in the muscle tissues and liver
  • Sulfonylureas, including glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase, Micronase), glipizide (Glucotrol), and others, which increase the amount of insulin made and released by the pancreas
  • Repaglinide (Prandin) and nateglinide (Starlix), which cause a burst of insulin release with each meal
  • Acarbose (Precose) and miglitol (Glyset), which delay the absorption of sugars from the intestine
  • Exanatide (Byetta) and pramlintide (Symlin), which slow your digestion and reduce your appetite for large meals, making blood sugar more manageable — Exanatide also causes a burst of insulin to be released from your pancreas with each meal. These medicines are both available by injection only.
  • Insulin, which adds to your own insulin supply — when you have enough insulin, you can adequately process glucose despite having insulin resistance.

People with diabetes who have early signs of kidney damage benefit from medicines called ACE inhibitors, including lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril), enalapril (Vasotec), benazepril (Lotensin) and others, or medicines called angiotensin receptor blockers, including losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan) and others). These medicines slow the worsening of kidney disease.


All diabetics should consider taking medication to lower their cholesterol, particularly those who have low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels above 100 mg/dL. Cholesterol medicines include statin drugs such as atorvastin (Lipitor), simvastin (Zocor), lovastatin (Mevacor) or pravastatin (Pravachol) and other cholesterol treatments such as gemfibrozil (Lopid) or fenofibrate (TriCor).


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