Antidiabetic drugs are medicines developed to stabilise and control blood glucose levels amongst people with diabetes. Antidiabetic drugs are commonly used to manage diabetes.
There are a number of different types of antidiabetic drug including:
- Pramlintide (Amylin)
- GLP-1 receptor agonists (such as Byetta and Victoza)
- Oral hypoglycemics (tablets)
Antidiabetic drugs for type 1 diabetes
For people with type 1 diabetes, daily insulin injections are essential to maintain health.
Type 1 diabetics must also eat properly, keep blood glucose levels from going too low or too high, and monitor blood sugar levels.
In America, pramlintide, marketed as Amylin, is used in addition to insulin by some people with type 1 diabetes to further help control their diabetes.
Amylin is not currently prescribed in the UK.
Antidiabetic drugs for type 2 diabetes
For people with type 2 diabetes, diet and exercise may be enough to control blood glucose levels in some.
However, when diet and exercise is no longer efficient, anti-diabetic drugs may be prescribed.
Medication will either be taken orally in the form of tablets (oral hypoglycemics), or be injected (insulin and GLP-1 receptor agonists).
- Read more about oral hypoglycemics
Antidiabetic treatment considerations for type 2 diabetes
Biguanides, such as Metformin, are commonly prescribed as a first antidiabetic medication.
If biguanides are not effective on their own you may be given alternative medication either instead of, or in addition to, biguanides. The type of medication you are offered could depend on a variety of factors as different medication have different advantages and disadvantages.
Some common factors that your doctor will consider are as follows:
- How effective is the medication for reducing blood sugar levels?
- Will the drug promote weight gain?
- Which other side effects exist for the treatment?
- Will the drug react with any other medications that are taken?
- Is an injectable drug appropriate?
- How expensive is the drug?
Generic and branded antidiabetic drugs
A number of generic and branded antidiabetic drugs fall under these types.
- Biguanides are incredibly common and include metformin (Glucophage)
- Sulfonylureas include glipizide (Glucotrol), glyburide (Glynase, Micronase), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), and tolbutamide (Orinase)
- Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors include acarbose (Precose) and miglitol (Glyset)
- Thiazolidinediones, such as pioglitazone (Actos)
- DPP-4 inhibitors such as sitagliptin (Januvia), saxagliptin (Onglyza), vildagliptin (Galvus)
- GLP-1 receptor agonists such as exenatide (Byetta) and liraglutide (Victoza)
Some drugs are combinations of some of these drug types.
One such drug, Eucreas, is a combination of vildagliptin and metformin.
The role of antidiabetic drugs in treatment
Antidiabetic drugs are not designed to cure diabetes, but they help diabetes patients to keep their condition under control and lower the risk of diabetes complications.