New Medicines For Type 2 Diabetes

New Medicines For Type 2 Diabetes

Even though diabetes is not a new disease, doctors and scientists are still learning new things about how it works. Each time they learn something new about what can cause diabetes, they might also discover a new way to treat it.

This is why it may seem like there is a constant supply of new medicines for your diabetes. With so many medicines to choose from, it can be hard to figure out which are best for you. As with any major decision about your diabetes, talk to your healthcare provider to decide together what medicines you need.

Remember that your diabetes can change over time.
You might need to add or switch medicines in the
future so you can keep your blood glucose under control.

It is important to remember that newer is not always better. At the same time, newer offerings do not mean that older diabetes medicines are less effective. The reason that some medicines are still used after many years is because they work. So if your diabetes is under good control right now, you probably don’t need a new medicine. You can always ask your healthcare provider if they think you are taking the most effective medicines available for your diabetes.

ACCU-CHEK® Aviva Plus Diabetes Monitoring Kit

ACCU-CHEK® Aviva Plus Diabetes Monitoring Kit

What are the newest medicines for type 2 diabetes?

The two problems in your body when you have type 2 diabetes are:

  • Your body doesn’t make enough insulin; this is called “insulin deficiency.”
  • The cells in your body cannot use insulin properly; this is called “insulin resistance.”

All of the medicines used to treat your diabetes work by helping to fix one of these problems. Different types of medicine do this in different ways.

The Take Home Message

Trying to remember the names of all these new medicines and how they work can be difficult. Luckily for you, your healthcare team is there for you to discuss any new medicines for your diabetes care. Be sure to visit your healthcare provider if:

  • you’re wondering if the medicines you are taking for your diabetes are the best ones for you
  • any of the medicines mentioned in this article might be right for you
  • You are thinking about stopping one of your medicines, or if you are thinking about switching to a new medicine for your diabetes care.


4 of the newest medicines
to treat your diabetes

1 GLP-1 Analogs
This group of medicines includes exenatide, also known as Byetta, and liraglutide, also known as Victora. These medicines are given in a shot just like insulin. They work by increasing the amount of insulin made by the body. These medicines can also help the stomach empty slower and decrease the amount of food you eat. Both of these effects can help your diabetes by helping you lose weight. Side effects of these medicines can include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. These medicines are normally used if you can’t control your blood glucose with oral medicines alone.

2 DDP-4 Inhibitors
This group of medicines includes stiagliptin, also known as Januvia; saxagliptin, also known as Onglyza; and linagliptin, also known as Tradjenta. All of these medicines are pills that are taken once a day. They are often used in people who also take metformin but can’t keep their blood glucose within the target range. These medicines do not cause weight gain, have very few side effects, and work by causing more insulin to be made by the body over long periods of time. Lower doses are used if you have problems with your kidneys.


3  Amylinomimetics
This group of medicines includes pramlinitide, also known as Symlin. This medicine is given as a shot at mealtimes. It is used only by people with type 2 diabetes who already take insulin. It works by helping to keep blood glucose levels lower after meals. It also helps you lose weight by decreasing your appetite and by helping you feel full sooner. This medicine can cause low blood sugar, or other side effects such as nausea and vomiting.

4 Thiazolidinediones
(TZDs) This group of medicines includes rosiglitazone, also known as Avandia and pioglitazone, also known as Actos. These medicines are pills that help the cells in the body use insulin properly, and may also help the body make more insulin. TZDs are not normally used as a person’s only medicine. Instead, they are often taken with another oral medicine, like metformin, to help get blood glucose levels in the goal range. TZDs don’t cause low blood sugar, but they can cause weight gain and weakness in your bones that can make you prone to breaking a bone if you fall. TZDs can also cause problems if you have heart failure, because they make your body hold on to extra water. There is a small increase in the risk of getting bladder cancer in people who take Actos for long periods of time.


By Robert Erhman, MD

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