Diabetes Medications

Non-Insulin Medications

Diabetes Pills

How They Work

Side Effects



Metformin (Glucophage) 

Decreases amount of glucose released from liver.

Bloating, gas, diarrhea, upset stomach, loss of appetite (usually within the first few weeks of starting). Take with food to minimize symptoms. Metformin is not likely to cause low blood glucose.In rare cases, lactic acidosis may occur in people with abnormal kidney or liver function.

Always tell healthcare providers that it may need to be stopped when you are having a dye study or surgical procedure.


Glimepiride (Amaryl)

Glyburide(Diabeta, Micronase)

Glipizide (Glucotrol, Glucotrol XL)

Micronized glyburide (Glynase)

Stimulates the pancreas to release more insulin, both right after a meal and then over several hours

Low blood glucose, occasional skin rash, irritability, upset stomach

Because these medicines can cause low blood glucose, always carry a source of carbohydrate with you.

Follow your meal plan and activity program. Call your healthcare provider if your blood glucose levels are consistently low. If there is an increase in your activity level or reduction in your weight or calorie intake, the dose may need to be lowered.

Repaglinide (Prandin)

D-Phenylalanine Derivatives

Nateglinide (Starlix)

Stimulate the pancreas to release more insulin right after a meal.

Effects diminish quickly and they must be taken with each meal; may cause low blood glucose.

These work quickly when taken with meals to reduce high blood glucose levels.

However, they are less likely than sulfonylureas to cause low blood glucose.

Pioglitazone (TZDs)


Makes the body more sensitive to the effects of insulin.

May cause side effects such as swelling (edema) or fluid retention.

Do not cause low blood sugar when used alone.

Increased risk of congestive heart failure in those at risk.

Increases the amount of glucose taken up by muscle cells and keeps the liver from overproducing glucose; may improve blood fat levels.

Talk with your healthcare provider if you have the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, fatigue, loss of appetite, shortness of breath, severe edema or dark urine.

DPP-4 Inhibitors

Sitagliptin (Januvia)

Saxagliptin (Onglyza)

Linagliptin ( Tradjenta)

Improves insulin level after a meal and lowers the amount of glucose made by your body.

Stomach discomfort, diarrhea, sore throat, stuffy nose, upper respiratory infection.

Do not cause low blood glucose.

Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effects that bother you or that don't go away.




Slows the absorption of carbohydrate into your bloodstream after eating.

Gas, diarrhea, upset stomach, abdominal pain

Take with meals, to limit the rise of blood glucose that can occur after meals; these do not cause low blood glucose.

Side effects should go away after a few weeks.