Oral diabetes medicines (taken by mouth) help control blood sugar (glucose) levels in people whose bodies still produce some insulin, such as some people with type 2 diabetes. These medicines are prescribed along with regular exercise and changes in the diet. Many oral diabetes medications may be used in combination with each other or with insulin to achieve the best blood glucose control.

This guide provides general information about the different oral medicines for diabetes. It will help you learn more about your medication. Always take your medicine exactly as your doctor prescribes it. Discuss your specific questions and concerns with your health care provider.


Glipizide (Glucotrol®, Glucotrol XL®,), Glimepride (Amaryl®), Glyburide (DiaBeta®, Glynase PresTab®, Micronase®)

These medications lower blood glucose by causing the pancreas to release more insulin.


Metformin (Glucophage®, Glucophage XR®, Glumetza®, Fortamet®, Riomet®)

These medications reduce how much glucose the liver produces. It also improves how insulin works in the body, and slows down the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar.


Pioglitozone (Actos®), rosiglitozone (Avandia®)

These medications improve the way insulin works in the body by allowing more glucose to enter into muscles, fat, and the liver.

Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors

Acarbose (Precose®,) miglitol (Glyset®)

These medications lower blood glucose by delaying the breakdown of carbohydrates and reducing glucose absorption in the small intestine. They also block certain enzymes in order to slow down the digestion of some starches.


Repaglinide (Prandin®), nateglinide (Starlix®)

These medications lower blood glucose by getting the pancreas to release more insulin.

DPP-4 inhibitors

Sitagliptin (Januvia®), saxagliptin (Onglyza®), linagliptin (Tradjenta®), alogliptin (Nesina®)

These medications help your pancreas to release more insulin after meals. They also lower the amount of glucose released by the liver.

SGLT2 inhibitors

Canagliflozin (Invokana®), dapagliflozin (Farxiga®), empagliflozin (Jardiance®)

These drugs work on the kidneys to remove extra sugar from the body.

Bile acid sequestrant

Colesevelam (Welchol®)

Bile acid sequestrants lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels in patients who have diabetes.

Dopamine agonist

Bromocriptine (Cyclocet®)

This medication lowers the amount of glucose released by the liver.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/04/2016.


  • American Diabetes Association. What Are My Options? (http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/medication/oral-medications/what-are-my-options.html) Accessed 5/4/2016.

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