Medications for type 2 diabetes (5/5)

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 anoverview 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.

GLP-1 analogues or incretin mimetics (include exenatide and liraglutide, only available as injections)

  • Mode of action: increases glucose-dependent insulin secretion and decrease glucagon secretion as well as slows glucose absorption by slowing food passage and decreases appetite
  • Unlikely to cause hypoglycaemia by itself.
  • However hypo may occur when it is used with other blood glucose lowering medications.
  • Side effects: nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
  • Not recommended for people with severe gastrointestinal disease or severe kidney disease.
  • Not recommended for pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  • If you are taking antibiotics, please take it at least an hour before or four hours after injecting exenatide.
  • Not substitutes for insulin


  • Some people with type 2 diabetes will need to use insulin as well as other blood glucose lowering medications.
  • About 50% of people with type 2 diabetes will be unable to produce their own insulin within 10 years of their diagnosis.
  • Recommended for pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  • Using insulin is not a treatment failure nor ‘end of the road’ for people with type 2 diabetes.
  • Help minimise possible diabetes complications in the long run.
Viv Hsu
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