- Type 2 Diabetes: Learn the Warning Signs
- Diabetes Friendly Dining
- Type 2 Diabetes: Test Your Medical IQ
- Patient Comments: Diabetes Treatment - Effective Treatments
- Patient Comments: Diabetes - Diet
- Patient Comments: Diabetes Treatment - Medications
- Patient Comments: Diabetes Treatment - Insulin
- Find a local Endocrinologist in your town
- Diabetes type 1 and type 2 treatment facts
- Which specialties of doctors treat type 1 and type 2 diabetes?
- What is the treatment for diabetes?
- Medications for type 2 diabetes
- Meglitinides (Prandin and Starlix)
- Metformin (Glucophage)
- Canagliflozin (Invokana) and dapagliflozin (Farxiga)
- Thiazolidinediones: pioglitazone (Actos) and rosiglitazone (Avandia)
- Acarbose (Precose)
- Pramlintide (Symlin)
- Exenatide (Byetta)
- Liraglutide (Victoza)
- Long-acting exenatide (Bydureon)
- Albiglutide (Tanzeum)
- Dulaglutide (Trulicity)
- DPP-IV inhibitors (sitagliptin, saxagliptin, linagliptin)
- Combination medications for type 2 diabetes
- Treatment of diabetes with insulin
- Different methods of delivering insulin
- Diabetes diet
- The future of pancreas transplantation
Historically, increasing insulin output by the pancreas has been the major area targeted by medications used to treat type 2 diabetes. Medications that increase insulin output belong to the class of drugs called sulfonylureas. Older generations of these drugs include chlorpropamide (Diabinese) and tolbutamide were abandoned due to association with higher risk of cardiovascular events.
Newer sulfonylurea drugs include:
These drugs rapidly lower blood sugar, but can cause abnormally low blood sugar (called hypoglycemia). In addition, sulfonylureas contain sulfa and should be avoided by patients who are allergic to sulfa.
Biguanides is a class of drugs that decrease the amount of glucose produced by the liver, and have been used for many years in Europe and Canada. In 1994, the FDA approved the use of the biguanide called metformin (Glucophage) for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
- Metformin is unique in its ability to decrease glucose production by the liver.
- Because metformin does not increase insulin levels, metformin when used alone does not usually cause hypoglycemia. In addition, metformin tends to suppress appetite, which may benefit people who are overweight.
- Metformin may be used by itself or together with other oral drugs or insulin.
- Metformin should not be used in patients with kidney impairment and should be used cautiously in those with liver impairment.
The older biguanides that preceded metformin were associated with a serious condition called lactic acidosis, a potentially dangerous acid build up in the blood resulting from accumulation of the drug and its breakdown products. While metformin is safer in this regard, it is recommended that metformin be discontinued for 24 hours before surgery or any procedure involving the intravenous injection of dyes (for example, some X-ray studies of the kidney). The dyes may impair kidney function and cause a buildup of the drug in the blood. Metformin can be restarted after these procedures once the patient is urinating normally.
Canagliflozin (Invokana) and dapagliflozin (Farxiga)
The FDA approved canagliflozin (Invokana) in March 2013 and dapagliflozin (Farxiga) in January 2014 to improve blood sugar control (glycemic control) in adults with type 2 diabetes. These oral medications belong to a class of drugs known as sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors. They work by blocking the kidneys' reabsorption of glucose, leading to increased glucose excretion and reduction of blood sugar levels.
Clinical trials with canagliflozin involving over 10,000 patients showed improvement in both fasting glucose and hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels. Sixteen clinical trials with dapagliflozin involving over 9,400 participants showed improvement in HbA1c levels.
Side effects, warnings, and precautions
- Side effects are similar for both canagliflozin and dapagliflozin and include vaginal yeast infection and urinary tract infection.
- Each of these drugs has been used as a single therapy and in combination with other drugs such as metformin, sulfonylurea, pioglitazone, and insulin.
- Dapagliflozin is contraindicated in patients with a history of bladder cancer.
- Due to risk of dehydration, these drugs should be used cautiously in the elderly as well as those with impaired renal function or taking diuretics.