Learning about your diabetic meds is one of the best things that you can do to begin taking control of your diabetes. There are three basic types of diabetic meds: oral diabetes medication, insulin, and other injectable medications. There are 6 different classes of oral diabetic meds, they are:

Sulfonylureas – these stimulate the pancreas to make more insulin. Ex. Diabinese, Tolinase, Micronase, Glucotrol, Amaryl

Biguanides – these shut off the liver’s excess glucose production. Ex. Metformin, Glucophage

Alpha-Glucosidase Inhibitors – this type of diabetic meds slow the absorption of carbs. Ex. Acarbose, Miglitol, Precose, Glyset

Thiazolidinediones – this medication is used to increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin. Ex. Avandia, Actos

Meglitinides – these also stimulate the pancreas to make more insulin. Ex. Repaglinide, Prandin

DPP-4 Inhibitors – this new class of medication works by preventing the breakdown of GLP-1, a compound in the body that naturally controls blood sugar levels. Ex. Januvia, Onglyza, Sitagliptin, Saxagliptin


Types of Insulin


Insulin is another type of diabetic meds that a person might take. The body naturally produces insulin in most people, but in type-1 diabetes the pancreas can no longer make this hormone. In type-2 diabetes, insulin shots help the body use glucose for energy. Insulin cannot be taken in pill form because it would be broken down by the body’s digestive system. This medicine comes in different strengths, and the types of insulin are divided by how quickly they work, when they peak, and how long they last. There are four different types of these diabetic meds, they are:

  1. Rapid-acting insulin – These begin about 5 hours after injection, peak in about an hour, and is affective for 2 – 4 hours. Ex. Eli Lilly, Novo, Nordisk, sanofi-aventis
  2. Regular or short-acting insulin – This type reaches the bloodstream within 30 minutes of the injection, peaks anywhere from 2-3 hours, and works for about 3-6 hours.
  3. Intermediate-acting insulin – These reach the bloodstream within about 2-4 hours, peak between 2-3 hours, and are affective from anywhere between 12-18 hours.
  4. Long-acting insulin – This type reaches the bloodstream 6-10 hours after injection, and they are usually effective for 20-24 hours. Ex. Glargine and Detemir.


Premixed insulin is sometimes used when people who have trouble drawing insulin out of two bottles or following the directions of dosage. Examples are people with poor eyesight or dexterity. It is also convenient for people whose diabetes is stabilized by a particular combination (Diabetes.org, 2011).