Top 10 Diabetes Medications for Controlling your Blood Sugar Levels

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

Last updated on October 5th, 2023

Diabetes is one of the common problems nowadays in people of all ages.

It is a disorder that makes your body struggle to manage blood sugar levels and occurs when it cannot produce or use insulin (a body’s hormone).

Healthy lifestyle choices such as diet control, regular exercise, and 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 learn about common diabetes mellitus medications.

Managing Diabetes With Medications

There are three main types of diabetes:

  • Diabetes Type-1
  • Diabetes Type-2
  • Gestational Diabetes

Once you develop diabetes type-1, you have to live with it for the rest of your life, whereas Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy only. Type 2 diabetes is often manageable and reversible through diet, exercise and lifestyle management.

Medical management of diabetes mellitus in case of type 2 diabetes is not always needed. One can manage and reverse type 2 diabetes  properly and exercise. Talk to an expert at Breathe Well-being to  more diabetes reversal.

People with Diabetes type-1 require Insulin for treatment. Whereas, gestational diabetes can be controlled with medications. Let’s learn more about diabetes medications and know if they are necessary or not.

Read More: How Intermittent Fasting Helps in Diabetes?

Oral Medications: The Mainstay of Diabetes Management

Oral diabetes mellitus medications 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 diabetes mellitus medications 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 for optimal medical management of diabetes mellitus.

Read More: What Is Diabetes Leg Pain?

Classification of Drugs For Treating Diabetes

Classification of Drugs

These days, hundreds of diabetes mellitus medications are available in the market. 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.

Popular Brand Names

  • Glyset (Pro)
  • Precose (Pro)

Read More: Connections Between Diabetes and Hypertension.


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.

Popular Brand Names

  • Glucophage®
  • Glucophage XR®


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

Popular Brand Names

  • Prandin (Repaglinide)
  • Starlix (Nateglinide)

Read More: Hyperglycemia: Symptoms, Causes And Treatment


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.

Popular Brand Names

  • Actos
  • Avandia
  • Alogliptin/pioglitazone

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).

Popular Brand Names

  • Jardiance® (empagliflozin)
  • Invokana® (canagliflozin)
  • Steglatro® (ertugliflozin)
  • Brenzavvy™ (bexaglifloxin)
  • Farxiga® (dapagliflozin)

Read More: Know About mmol/l to mg/dl Blood Glucose Converter

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.

Popular Brand Names

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.

Popular Brand Names

  • Byetta
  • Bydureon
  • Victoza
  • Lixumia
  • Trulicity
  • Ozempic
  • Rybelsus

Read More: Can Type 2 Diabetes be Reversed Permanently?


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 effects of these drugs.

Popular Brand Name

  • Amaryl (Glimepiride)
  • Tolbutamide (Tolbutamide)
  • Gliclazide (Diamicron Diamicron MR)
  • Glipizide (Glibenese, Minodiab)

Amylin Analogues

Amylin is another kind of hormone that the 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.

Popular Brand Name

  • Symlin® (Pramlintide)

Read More: Is Type 2 Diabetes Curable?


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 ways, the purpose of all the drugs in the classification is to control sugar.

List of Type 1 Diabetes Medications

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic medical condition in which the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or produces no insulin at all. Insulin therapy is a critical component of managing type 1 diabetes, and several types of insulin are available to help regulate blood sugar levels. There are a lot of type 1 diabetes medications that are the same as type 2 diabetes management. But at times medicines are not enough for type 1 diabetes and have to be combined with insulin. The main types of insulin used for type 1 diabetes are:

Type 1 Diabetes Medications – Rapid-Acting Insulin:

Onset: Within 15 minutes

Peak: 1-2 hours

Duration: 3-4 hours

A rapid-acting insulin is typically taken just before or immediately after meals to control post-meal blood sugar spikes. It’s often combined with other types of insulin to mimic the body’s natural insulin response. Examples include:

  • Insulin Lispro (Humalog)
  • Insulin Aspart (NovoLog)
  • Insulin Glulisine (Apidra)

Read More: 15 Foods To Lower Blood Sugar Levels

Type 1 Diabetes Medications – Short-Acting Insulin:

Onset: 30 minutes to 1 hour

Peak: 2-3 hours

Duration: 3-6 hours

Short-acting insulin is also known as regular insulin. It is taken 30 minutes to an hour before meals to help control blood sugar levels during and after eating. Examples include:

  • Regular Insulin (Humulin R, Novolin R)

Type 1 Diabetes Medications – Intermediate-Acting Insulin:

Onset: 1-2 hours

Peak: 4-12 hours

Duration: 12-18 hours

Intermediate-acting insulin provides more extended coverage and is often used as basal insulin to maintain blood sugar levels between meals and overnight. Examples include:

  • NPH Insulin (Humulin N, Novolin N)

Read More: Chart For Normal Blood Sugar Levels for Adults with Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes Medications – Long-Acting Insulin:

Onset: 1-2 hours or delayed

Peak: Minimal or no peak

Duration: Up to 24 hours

Long-acting insulin provides a steady, background level of insulin throughout the day and night. It is used as a basal insulin to provide a foundation of insulin support.

Examples include:

  • Insulin Glargine (Lantus, Basaglar, Toujeo)
  • Insulin Detemir (Levemir)
  • Insulin Degludec (Tresiba)

Read More: HbA1c (Hemoglobin A1c) A1c Chart, Test, Levels, & Normal Range

Type 1 Diabetes Medications – Ultra-Long-Acting Insulin:

Onset: 1-6 hours or delayed

Peak: Minimal or no peak

Duration: Up to 36 hours

Ultra-long-acting insulin provides an even more extended duration of action, allowing for less frequent dosing. Examples include:

  • Insulin Degludec (Tresiba)
  • Insulin Glargine U300 (Toujeo)

The choice of insulin and the specific regimen depends on individual needs, lifestyle, and healthcare provider recommendations. Many individuals with type 1 diabetes use a combination of these insulin types, often called basal-bolus therapy, to manage their blood sugar levels effectively. Additionally, advancements in insulin delivery methods, such as insulin pumps, can offer greater flexibility and precision in insulin dosing for people with type 1 diabetes. It’s essential for individuals with type 1 diabetes to work closely with their healthcare team to tailor their insulin therapy to their unique needs and lifestyle.

Read More: Top 10 Homeopathic Medicine For Diabetes.

List of Type 2 Diabetes Medications

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

Metformin hydrochloride

It is one of the most popular and common type 2 diabetes medications. It is the most common drug that doctors prescribe 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.

Popular Brand Names

  • Glucophage
  • Glucophage XR
  • Fortamet
  • Glumetza
  • Riomet


It belongs to the SGLT2 inhibitor class of diabetes medications. You can easily find this drug under the trade name of Jardiance. People with type 2 diabetes can take this type 2 diabetes medication in the morning with or without food.

Popular Brand Name

  • Jardiance


It is a sulfonylurea antidiabetic drug. It is popular as Glucotrol. Many patients find diet control ineffective in controlling diabetes. Therefore, the doctor prescribes this drug to them as one of the type 2 diabetes medications. It is not suitable for use in the treatment of diabetes type-1. You can take this type 2 diabetes anti diabetic medication 30 minutes before the day’s first meal.

Popular Brand Names

  • Glucotrol
  • Glucotrol XL
  • Minodiab


It is an incretin mimetic drug for the treatment of diabetes type-2. The doctor prescribes this type 2 diabetes anti diabetic medication in combination with other medications. Patients should continue diet control and exercise while taking such type 2 diabetes medication. The trade name of Exenatide is Byetta (5mg).

Popular Brand Name

  • Byetta®


Miglitol is an Alpha-glucosidase inhibitor. It is available as an oral anti-diabetes drug. In India, you can easily find this type 2 diabetes anti diabetic medication under the trade names Euglitol (50mg), Migset (50 mg), Mignar (50mg), Mignar-MF (25 mg/500mg), and more.It slows down the carbohydrate metabolic rate. Its dosage is 25 mg thrice a day in the initial stage. The doctor may increase your dosage up to 100 mg thrice a day.

Popular Brand Name

  • Glyset (miglitol)


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.

Popular Brand Name

  • Tradjenta


It is a type 2 diabetes anti-diabetic medication 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 the 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.

Popular Brand Name

  • Actos


This one is another one on the list of common type 2 diabetes medications. It is a drug that improves incretin levels in the body, especially after a meal. It belongs to the class of Dipeptidyl Peptidase-4 (DPP-4) Inhibitors. This sugar control medicine is available in 25 mg, 50 mg, and 100 mg dosages. The doctor prescribes 100 mg tablets once a day to the people with diabetes type-2.

Popular Brand Name


It is also a part of the class of diabetes medicine Dipeptidyl Peptidase-4 (DPP-4) Inhibitors. This medicine works both in monotherapy and in combination with other medicine. Many doctors prescribe this medicine in combination with metformin uses 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.

Popular Brand Name

  • Onglyza


This drug belongs to sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors. This medicine for sugar patients works by allowing the kidneys to flush out the excessive blood sugar from the 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.

Popular Brand Name

  • Forxiga


In certain cases, individuals diagnosed with type 2 diabetes may find it necessary to incorporate insulin into their treatment regimen. The very same categories of insulin that prove effective in managing type 1 diabetes can also be employed in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

Popular Brand Names

  • Novolin 70/30
  • Humulin 50/50
  • Humalog mix 75/25

Read More: How To Stimulate Your Pancreas to Produce Insulin Hormones in the Body?

A healthcare provider may suggest utilizing the aforementioned insulin types that are typically prescribed for type 1 diabetes when addressing type 2 diabetes. As in the case of type 1 diabetes, the choice of insulin type hinges on the specific insulin requirements and the extent of insulin deficiency a person with type 2 diabetes may experience. You can refer to the previously mentioned insulin types as a starting point for discussion with your healthcare professional.

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 regularly.

Read More: What Is Type 2 Diabetes Management?

Oral Diabetes Medications

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.

Read More: Top 10 Homeopathic Medicine For Diabetes.


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.

Side Effects of Diabetes Medications

Side Effects of Diabetes Medications

Here are common and severe side effects that individuals may experience while taking various diabetes medications, including insulin:

Common Side Effects:

Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar): This is one of the most common side effects of many diabetes medications, especially insulin and sulfonylureas. Symptoms include shakiness, sweating, confusion, and dizziness.

  • Weight Gain: Some diabetes medications can lead to weight gain, particularly insulin and sulfonylureas.
  • Digestive Issues: Gastrointestinal problems such as nausea, diarrhea, and stomach discomfort are some of the most common side effects of diabetes medication, especially metformin.
  • Injection Site Reactions: For those on insulin or other injectable medications, redness, swelling, or itching at the injection site are common but usually not severe.
  • Headaches: Another one in the list of side effects of diabetes medication is headache. Headaches can occur as a side effect of certain diabetes medications, particularly DPP-4 inhibitors and GLP-1 receptor agonists.
  • Skin Reactions: Some people may experience skin issues like rashes or itching while on certain diabetes medications, such as GLP-1 receptor agonists.
  • Gastrointestinal Distress: In addition to nausea and diarrhea, flatulence (gas), bloating, and constipation are also common gastrointestinal side effects associated with some medications.
  • Hypersensitivity at Injection Sites: For individuals using insulin or other injectables, localized hypersensitivity reactions, though generally not severe, can lead to discomfort and skin redness.
  • Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs): Certain diabetes medications, particularly SGLT-2 inhibitors, can increase the risk of UTIs, which may cause symptoms like frequent urination, pain, or burning during urination.
  • Increased Thirst and Urination: Some medications, such as SGLT-2 inhibitors, may lead to increased thirst and urination due to their mechanism of action in the kidneys.

Read More: What Is Sliding Scale Insulin Therapy Chart For Diabetics

Severe Side Effects:

  • Severe Hypoglycemia: If blood sugar levels drop too low, it can lead to unconsciousness, seizures, and, if left untreated, it can be life-threatening.
  • Allergic Reactions: While rare, some people may experience severe allergic reactions to diabetes medications, including insulin, which can manifest as difficulty breathing, swelling of the face or throat, and hives.
  • Lactic Acidosis: This is a rare but severe side effect associated with metformin, characterized by elevated levels of lactic acid in the blood. It can lead to serious health complications.
  • Pancreatitis: In some cases, medications like DPP-4 inhibitors have been associated with pancreatitis, a painful inflammation of the pancreas.
  • Kidney Problems: SGLT-2 inhibitors have been linked to kidney-related side effects, including acute kidney injury and urinary tract infections that can become severe.

Read More: 10 Best Glucometers in India


How to Reverse Diabetes without Medication?

In many cases, diabetes can be reversed without any medication. Breathe Well-being offers a customized diabetes reversal program focusing on natural methods. This program aims to reverse diabetes, discontinue medication, and rapidly normalize HbA1c levels. By tailoring strategies to individual body needs, it provides a holistic approach that includes dietary changes, exercise, stress management, and lifestyle modifications to achieve diabetes reversal and improved well-being.

Can Type 2 Diabetes be Cured without Medication?

Firstly, there is no cure for diabetes. However, type 2 diabetes can be managed and reversed through lifestyle and dietary changes. Meaning, once you achieve a complete diabetes reversal through our program, there’s no going back. Just a little change to your existing lifestyle and you’ll be able to lead a healthy, diabetes-free life.

Can Diabetes Medication be Stopped?

In some cases, lifestyle changes, improved blood sugar control, or weight loss may allow for a reduction in medication or even discontinuation. However, abruptly stopping medication without medical guidance can lead to uncontrolled blood sugar levels, posing health risks. Diabetes management requires individualized care.

Many people ask ‘can I control my diabetes without medication?’ The answer is yes (in case of type 2 diabetes and prediabetes). You can consult our diabetes reversal experts at Breathe Well-being to know how to reverse your diabetes and stop medications. Our health coaches will provide you a personalized reversal plan that works the best for you.

Will Oral Medicines for Diabetes Work?

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


Are There Any 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.


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.


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 favorite food. However, you need to eat in the right portions. Make sure to maintain your body’s daily carbohydrates so that your blood sugar levels remain in control. In this way, you can enjoy your favorite sweets while on diabetes medications.


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.

What is the Best Treatment for Gestational Diabetes?

Treatment of gestational diabetes involves eating high-fiber and low-carbohydrate food. Healthy eating habits must be adjunct to 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 an insulin injection. Depending upon the blood sugar levels, the doctor can prescribe either a fast-acting insulin injection or a long-acting insulin injection.


Last Updated on by Dr. Damanjit Duggal 


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