Drugs Available for Diabetics

Currently, there are a wide variety of drugs available for people who have been diagnosed with diabetes. With such a diversity of drugs available for diabetes mellitus, they have been divided into various classes (medications that have a similar method of action are grouped into the same class of drugs). If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, then you may be interested in taking part in our diabetes clinical trials in DeLand, FL.

Following are a list of the more common drug classes for diabetes, which form of diabetes (type 1 or type 2) they are intended for, how they work, and which medications are classified under these drug classes:


Insulin is a hormone that is naturally created in the human body in order to help regulate blood glucose levels. Patients with type 1 diabetes need insulin in order to survive, but it is also sometimes prescribed for patients with type 2 diabetes. Today, there are a variety of different insulin types which have been made available as medication. These types of insulin differ in how long they take effect, with some lasting for only a few hours and others lasting up to a full day.

The types of Insulin available include:

  • Rapid-acting Insulin: This form of insulin will reach the patient’s blood within 15 minutes of being injected. The effects of this medication will hit their peak between 30 to 90 minutes later, and they can last up to 5 hours.
  • Short-acting Insulin: This is the most common form of insulin used for people with type 1 diabetes. It will start working within 30 to 60 minutes following the injection, and it peaks in about 2 to 4 hours.
  • Long-acting Insulin: This form of insulin can take anywhere from 6 to 14 hours to start working, but it has almost no peak. Long-acting insulin can stay in effect for as long as 20 to 26 hours.
  • Intermediate-acting Insulin: This will start taking effect within 1 to 3 hours after the patient has taken it, and it usually peaks in about 8 hours. This form of insulin can stay in the blood for anywhere from 14 to 20 hours.


Biguanides are a form of drug that works to prevent the liver from producing glucose. By prohibiting this glucose production, the patient’s body is able to become more sensitive towards insulin. Within this drug class, the only diabetes medication that is currently available is called metformin. Doctors will often choose to prescribe metformin as part of a first line treatment course for type 2 diabetics. However, in some cases this drug can be prescribed, in combination with insulin, for people who have type 1 diabetes as well.


Sulphonylureas are what is known as a class of anti-diabetic drug used for people who have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Interestingly, many of the medications that fall under this drug classification happen to end in ‘ide’.

Here is a short list of drugs (with their associated brand names) which are all classified as Sulphonylureas:

  • Gliquidone (Glurenorm)
  • Glibenclamide (Daonil)
  • Glimepiride (Amaryl)
  • Glipizide (Glucotrol)
  • Gliclazide (Diamicron)
  • Gliquidone (Glurenorm)
  • Glyclopyramide (Deamelin-S)

This type of drug works by elevating the amount of insulin that is being produced by the pancreas, as well as improving the overall effectiveness of insulin. Unfortunately, due to the mode of action for sulphonylureas, common side effects do include both weight gain and hypoglycemia.

Meglitinides / Prandial glucose regulator / Glinides

This class of diabetes drugs actually works in a similar way to sulphonylureas, except that they take effect for a shorter length of time. Doctors will prescribe meglitinides to their patients with type 2 diabetes, and they are to be taken within a half hour before they start eating. Given their shorter period of effectiveness compared to sulphonylureas, there is also a smaller likelihood that patients will experience side effects.

Common Example of prandial glucose regulators include:

  • Nateglinide (Starlix)
  • Repaglinide (Prandin)

Thiazolidinedione / Glitazones

Thiazolidinediones, or otherwise known as glitazones, are drugs that are also used for type 2 diabetes. These drugs work by helping to improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin, and research has shown that they can also help reduce a person’s triglyceride levels. However, there have been concerns that taking this type of drug could cause heart related issues.

DPP-4 inhibitors / Gliptins

The DPP-4 inhibitors, or gliptins, are diabetes drugs that can help to stimulate the production of insulin, while at the same time, reducing the production of glucagon. The effect of these drugs peaks during the digestion process.  Doctors often prescribe DPP-4 inhibitors to type 2 diabetics who have not received any benefits from taking sulphonylureas and metformin.

Common medications in this drug class include:

  • Saxagliptin (Onglyza)
  • Sitagliptin (Januvia)
  • Vildagliptin (Galvus)
  •  Linagliptin (Tradjenta)

Amylin Analogues

Amylin is actually a hormone, and just like insulin, this hormone is produced by the pancreas and released at the exact same time. The only difference is that the pancreas produces a much smaller quantity of amylin (only about 1% of the amount of insulin that is produced). This hormone works to help suppress the release of glucagon and lowers the blood sugar levels following a meal. Currently, an injectable form of this medication, known as pramlintide acetate (Symlin), is available for diabetics in the United States. It is also important to note that taking amylin in combination with insulin could lead to a higher risk of hypoglycemia.

Given the wide variety of drugs available for diabetes, it is important to talk to your doctor about your best course of action regarding diabetes treatment. Together, you and your doctor can choose the best combination of the above drugs so that you can take control of your diabetes.

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