miglitol, Glyset

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

What is miglitol, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

Miglitol is an oral medication used to control blood glucose (sugar) levels in type 2 diabetes. It belongs to a class of drugs called alpha-glucosidase inhibitors which also includes acarbose (Precose). Carbohydrates that are eaten are digested by enzymes in the intestine into smaller sugars which are absorbed into the body and raise blood sugar levels. The process of carbohydrate digestion requires the pancreas to release into the intestine alpha-amylase enzymes which digest the large carbohydrates into smaller carbohydrates called oligosaccharides. The cells lining the small intestine then release alpha-glucosidase enzymes that further digest the oligosaccharides into single sugars, like glucose, that can be absorbed. Miglitol is a man-made oligosaccharide designed to slow down the actions of alpha-amylase and alpha-glucosidase enzymes thereby slowing the appearance of sugar in the blood after a meal (postprandial hyperglycemia). It does not increase insulin production, and its effect on glucose is additive to the effect from other types of drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes. Miglitol may reduce the weight gain that frequently is caused by sulfonylureas, another type of drug used to treat type 2 diabetes. The FDA approved miglitol in December 1996.

What brand names are available for miglitol?


Do I need a prescription for miglitol?


What are the side effects of miglitol?

The most common side effects of miglitol are:

Rare but possible side effects include:

  • low serum iron, and
  • skin rash.

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