Last Modified: 4:47pm 29/04/2021


As well as insulin, there are several medications available to help treat type 2 diabetes – two of them are sometimes used to help treat type 1 diabetes, too. They work in a variety of ways, so some people will use a combination of medications.

These are the different types and what they do:

Biguanide (metformin): This is usually the first diabetes medication prescribed if a healthy diet and physical activity alone hasn’t sufficiently helped to manage blood sugar levels.

Sulphonylureas: These are tablets that stimulate the cells in the pancreas to make more insulin, helping it to work better.

Alpha-glucosidase inhibitor (acarbose): Slows down the intestine’s absorption of starchy foods, which, in turn, slows down any rise in blood sugar levels after eating.

Prandial glucose regulators: Similar to sulphonylureas, this stimulates the cells in the pancreas to produce more insulin. They work more quickly than sulphonylureas but only last for a short time, so they need to be taken half an hour before each meal.

Thiazolidinediones (glitazones): Reduces insulin resistance and improves sensitivity, allowing the insulin that the body produces to work more effectively. It also helps to protect the cells in the pancreas, which enables them to produce insulin for longer.

GLP-1s (incretin mimetics): Increases the level of incretins in the body. Incretins are a type of hormone that help produce more insulin when it’s needed and reduce the amount of glucose production when it’s not needed. They reduce the rate at which the stomach digests food and empties, and can also reduce appetite.

DPP-4 inhibitors (gliptins): These work by blocking the action of DPP-4, an enzyme that destroys incretin.

SGLT2 inhibitors: This medication reduces the amount of glucose absorbed by your kidneys and your blood.

For more information click link diabetes-uk-meds-and-kit-2020 and go to pages 20-23 inclusive.