Medications for type 2 diabetes (1/5)

Medications are given to people with type 2 diabetes to help manage their blood glucose levels in conjunction with healthy dietary habits and daily physical activities. As a consultant pharmacist, I aim to enhance quality use of medicines. PLEASE SPEAK WITH YOUR DOCTOR REGARDING YOUR SPECIFIC TREATMENTS.

The following information is designed to give you an overview of current treatment options available in Australia to help lowering blood glucose levels. For more detailed information, such as side effects and precautions, please speak with your pharmacist and ask for a CMI (Consumer Medicine Information) printout on your particular medication. Since there may be many brands on some medications, I have provided the chemical name of each medication to avoid confusion.


  • Mode of action: reduces glucose production by the liver & increase glucose usage by the body.
  • Best taken WITH or AFTER FOOD to reduce some of its side effects, such as nausea, diarrhoea and metallic taste.
  • Dosage: usually started at a low dose and increased slowly as diabetes progresses.
  • There are conventional and controlled release tablets. Your doctor will decide which suits you best.
  • Does not cause hypoglycaemia (‘hypo’  i.e. low blood glucose) by itself. However hypo may occur when metformin is used with other blood glucose lowering medications.
  • Does not cause weight gain hence it is often prescribed for people with type 2 diabetes who are overweight.
  • Not recommended for people with severe heart, liver or kidney disease.
  • Safe to use in breastfeeding. Seek specialist advice during pregnancy.
  • Always ask your doctor if you are having an surgery or procedures done.


Viv Hsu
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