Common Diabetes Medications for controlling your blood sugar levels

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Damanjit Duggal, MD, MBBS February 1, 2022

Last updated on August 30th, 2022

Diabetes is one of the common problems nowadays in the people of all the age. It is a disorder that makes your body struggle to manage blood sugar levels. It occurs when your body is not able to produce or make use of insulin (a body’s hormone). Healthy lifestyle choices such as diet control, regular exercises, and adopting healthy habits are the foundation for managing diabetes. Still, you may need some diabetes medications as well to achieve normal blood sugar levels. Read this blog to know about the common diabetes medicines.


Managing diabetes with medications

There are mainly three types of diabetes: Diabetes Type-1, Diabetes Type-2, and Gestational Diabetes. Once you develop either diabetes type-1 or diabetes type-2, you have to live with it for the rest of your life whereas Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy only. People with Diabetes type-1 require Insulin for treatment. However, diabetes type-2 is treatable with oral medications along with activity planning and diet management. Gestational diabetes is curable with medications.

Oral medications: The mainstay of diabetes management

Diabetes medicine

Oral medications for diabetes are helpful for people whose body still produces insulin. This mainly happens to people with diabetes type-2 and gestational diabetes. The doctor often prescribes these oral medicines for diabetes with regular exercise and a special diet for diabetes. The doctor also prescribes some oral medicines for diabetes in combination with other medicines or insulin. It is suggested to take care of the dosage and follow the prescription to take medicines for diabetes.

Also Read: Best Diabetic Diet Chart

Classification of drugs for treating diabetes

These days, hundreds of medicines for diabetes are available in the market. Since the classification of oral diabetes type-2 medicines divides the medicines into several classes. It is, therefore, easier for the doctors to prescribe suitable medicine according to your diabetes level and health condition.
Following are the classes of oral medicines for diabetes type-2:

Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors

The medicines that belong to this class slow down the digestion of starches, carbohydrates, and sugar. Such medicines maintain even and constant blood sugar levels after meals. Gastric problems and diarrhea are the common side effects of this class of medicines.


These help in lowering the amount of blood sugar released by the liver. The liver stores the excess sugar from your blood to use later. Your body uses the stored sugar for boosting instant energy or between meals. The medicines of this class make your body cells more sensitive to insulin action. Hence, your blood glucose levels drop with these oral medicines.


The blood sugar medications of this class stimulate the release of insulin by the pancreas. Taking meglitinides in excessive amounts and without prescription leads to hypoglycemia. This happens due to the excess release of insulin from the pancreas.


The medicines of this class work in the same way as biguanides. They help in decreasing the amount of glucose release from the liver. They also boost insulin sensitivity in your blood cells. There are very few side effects of this class of medicines.

SGLT2 inhibitors

SGLT2 Inhibitors enable your body to get rid of excess blood sugar through urine. Generally, your kidneys reabsorb the released blood glucose. These medicines block the process of reabsorption of blood glucose. Side effects of these medicines include yeast infections and urinary tract infections (UTI).

Dipeptidyl peptidase inhibitors

Such diabetes drugs slow down the rate of emptying the stomach contents to the gut. Thus, it slows the absorption of blood glucose in the body.

Incretin mimetics

Incretin is a group of metabolic hormones or gut peptides that are helpful in decreasing blood glucose levels. They stimulate the secretion of insulin in a glucose-dependent manner. Incretin mimetics are the diabetes drugs that act like incretin hormones. These stimulate the release of insulin after meals.


The drugs in this category promote the secretion of insulin from the pancreas in your body. Type-2 diabetes medications of this class were popular decades ago. Nowadays, doctors do not prefer medicines of this class. Hypoglycemia and weight gain are the common side effect of these drugs.

Amylin analogues

Amylin is another kind of hormone that body releases at the same time as Insulin. However, it is in much smaller quantities as compared to insulin. Its role is to suppress the release of glucagon to prevent post-meal glucose level spikes.

Doctors consider your age, blood glucose level, and other health issues before prescribing oral medications. Classification of diabetes medications enables the doctor to easily prescribe the right medicine. They follow expert practice guidelines when choosing the best medicine for diabetes without side effects. There are one or more drugs in each class of medicine for diabetes.


The classification of drugs used in diabetes is on the basis of their work. They work in different ways to control blood glucose levels. There are drugs that stimulate the pancreas for the release of insulin. Some other drugs block the action of stomach enzymes to break down carbohydrates or inhibit the production and release of glucose from the liver. In all the ways, the purpose of all the drugs in the classification is to control sugar.

List of common drugs prescribed for diabetes type-2

Here is the list of most common drugs for diabetes. The doctor prescribes these drugs for treating diabetes type-2. Diabetes medication list is mentioned below:

  • Metformin hydrochloride: It is popular as metformin. It is the most common drug that doctor prescribes to people with diabetes type-2. It is available in the market with the trade name of Fortamet and Glucophage. Metformin belongs to the biguanides class of diabetes medications. Metformin is available in tablets of different dosages. The doctor will prescribe you the dosage according to your age, blood sugar levels, and health conditions.
  • Empagliflozin: It belongs to the SGLT2 inhibitor class of diabetes medications. You can easily find this drug under the trade name of Jardiance. People with diabetes type-2 can take this drug in the morning with or without food.
  • Glipizide: It is a sulfonylurea antidiabetic drug. It is popular as Glucotrol. There are many patients who find diet control ineffective in controlling diabetes. Therefore, the doctor prescribes this drug to them. It is not suitable for use in the treatment of diabetes type-1. You can take this medication 30 minutes before the first meal of the day.
  • Exenatide: It is an incretin mimetic drug for the treatment of diabetes type-2. The doctor prescribes Exenatide in combination with other medications. Patients should continue diet control and exercise while taking this drug. The trade name of this drug is Byetta (5mg).
  • Miglitol: Miglitol is an Alpha-glucosidase inhibitor. It is available as an oral anti-diabetes drug. In India, you can easily find this medicine under the trade names of Euglitol (50mg), Migset(50 mg), Mignar (50mg), Mignar-MF (25 mg/500mg), and more. It slows down the carbohydrate metabolic rate. Its dosage is 25mg thrice a day in the initial stage. The doctor may increase your dosage up to 100 mg thrice a day.
  • Linagliptin: Linagliptin is available under the brand name Tradjenta. It belongs to a class of dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors. Patients need to take this medicine once a day with or without food.
  • Pioglitazone: It is an anti-diabetic drug that is available under the brand name Actos. It is a thiazolidinedione-type drug. It’s helpful in controlling high blood sugar in diabetes patients. It helps in restoring body’s ability to respond to insulin. If you are taking some other medication for diabetes, kindly discuss it with your doctor before starting this medication or stopping/continuing the old medication.
  • Sitagliptin: It is a drug that works by improving incretin levels in body especially after the meal. It belongs to the class Dipeptyl Peptidase-4 (DPP-4) Inhibitors. This sugar control medicine is available in 25 mg, 50 mg, and 100 mg dosage. The doctor prescribe 100 mg tablet once a day to the people with diabetes type-2.
  • Saxagliptin: It is also a part of class of diabetes medicine Dipeptyl Peptidase-4 (DPP-4) Inhibitors. This medicine works both in monotherapy and combination with other medicine. Many doctors prescribe this medicine in combination with metformin for the effective results. You can find this medicine under the brand name of Onglyza. The recommended dosage of this drug is 2.5 mg or 5 mg once a day with or without a meal.
  • Dapagliflozin: This drug belongs to sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors. This medicine for sugar patient works by allowing the kidneys to flush out the excessive blood sugar from body through urine. Its trade name is Forxiga. It is suitable as monotherapy. However, on recommendation of a doctor this medicine is suitable as an add-on treatment for people already on insulin, metformin, or any sulphonylureas.

There are many more drugs available in the market for the treatment of diabetes type-2. You can easily find the medicine that your doctor prescribes at the affordable rate near you.


The main purpose of oral medications for diabetes is to achieve the targeted blood glucose levels. Type-2 diabetes anti-diabetic medication pills eliminate the side effects to a great extent. They do not cause dangerously low levels of blood sugar in your body. People with diabetes type-2 who are on medication require monitoring their blood sugar levels on the regular basis.

Combination of Oral Drugs

There are several oral medications for diabetes that are available in combination with some other medicines. Below mentioned is the list of oral combination drugs for diabetes patients:

  1. Kazano (alogliptin and metformin)
  2. PrandiMet (repaglinide and metformin)
  3. Avandamet (rosiglitazone and metformin)
  4. Metaglip (glipizide and metformin)
  5. Kombiglyze XR (saxagliptin and metformin)
  6. Glucovance (glyburide and metformin)
  7. Janumet and Janumet XR (sitagliptin and metformin)
  8. Jentadueto (linagliptin and metformin)
  9. Actoplus MET, Actoplus MET XR (pioglitazone and metformin)
  10. Avandaryl (rosiglitazone and glimepiride)

The generic names of the drugs mentioned above are in the bracket. You can easily find these drugs in the nearest pharmacy or online drug store. Make sure to follow the doctor’s instructions before starting diabetes medications.


People with diabetes experience spikes in their blood sugar levels. If ignored, it can cause heart attack, kidney and liver diseases. Proper diet control and exercises are very important to maintain normal blood sugar level. Along with this, insulin therapy is useful for the patients with diabetes type-1. However, people with diabetes type-2 can control their diabetes with medications. Consult your doctor to start on the most suitable medications to keep your blood sugar levels normal.


What is the best treatment for gestational diabetes?

Treatment of gestational diabetes involves eating high-fiber and low- carbohydrate food. The healthy eating habit has to be adjunct with the daily exercise regime to eliminate gestational diabetes. If pregnant women cannot manage their blood sugar levels in the normal range, the doctor may suggest taking the insulin injection. Depending upon the blood sugar levels, the doctor can prescribe either fast-acting insulin injection or long-acting insulin injection.

Will diabetes medications alone help in controlling blood sugar levels?

Diabetes tablets do not work alone in maintaining your blood sugar levels. You need to maintain a healthy lifestyle with proper diet control to keep your diabetes in control. You can discuss with your doctor or dietician to prepare a diabetes diet chart. This will help you to maintain your daily carbs and calorie intake.

Can I enjoy my favourite sweets while on diabetes medications?

People with diabetes are often prescribed to follow a diabetes diet. This helps in maintaining their blood sugar levels. Taking a diabetes diet doesn’t mean that you need to give up your favourite food. However, you need to eat in the right portions. Make sure to maintain your body’s daily carbohydrates need so that your blood sugar levels remain in control. In this way, you can enjoy your favourite sweets while on diabetes medications.

Do diabetes medicines cure diabetes forever?

No. It is the myth that diabetes medicines are the cure for diabetes. People diagnosed with diabetes type-2 can control their blood sugar levels with diabetes medicines. They cannot give up taking medications. They will have to continue diabetes medicines for the rest of their life. They need to take the medicines in the prescribed dosage to avoid after effects complications.

Are there side effects of sugar control medications?

Generally, sugar control tablets are safe nevertheless one cannot deny that they do have side effects. Like any other drug, diabetes control medicines cause side effects. Such medicines can easily interact with other medicines and give you side effects. You should inform your doctor about any other kind of medications you are taking before starting with diabetes control pills.

Will oral medications for diabetes work?

People having diabetes for more than 10 years or taking insulin injections on regular basis have low chances that sugar medicine work. However, these oral medications work better on those who have recently developed diabetes type-2 or gestational diabetes.


Last Updated on by Dr. Damanjit Duggal 


The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.

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