Type 1 Diabetes Medications

People with type 1 diabetes have a short list of drugs to choose from, the list for those with type 2 diabetes is long. Insulin is an example of type 1 diabetes medication mainly prescribed. Additionally, Insulin therapy is used by individuals with type 2 diabetes. There are many forms of insulin to manage the condition and they are grouped by how fast they work once taken and the length of time their effects will last.

List of insulin drugs

Rapid-acting insulin

Short-acting insulin

Intermediate-acting insulin

The drugs used to treat type 1 diabetes medications in this class covers blood sugar elevations for at least half a day. If need be, it is combined with rapid or short-acting insulin. NPH (isophane) is a drug in this category.

Long-acting insulin


  • Humulin 70/30
  • Novolin 70/30
  • Novolog 70/30
  • Humulin 50/50
  • Humalog mix 75/25

Other medications which may be used

Apart from medications to treat type 1 diabetes, the physician may prescribe additional drugs such as:

  • High blood pressure drugs – the doctor can prescribe angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin II receptors blockers (ARBs) to aid in keeping the kidneys healthy.
  • Pramlintide (Symlin) – it’s administered through injections before eating to slow the movement of food through the stomach to prevent the rise of blood glucose levels that takes place after meals.
  • Aspirin – a regular or baby aspirin taken daily protects the heart.
  •  Cholesterol-lowering drugs- the physician may not wait till your cholesterol levels become elevated before he can prescribe cholesterol-lowering drugs and minimize the risk of heart disease

Type 2 diabetes medications


They are among the oldest medications for T2D still used today. The drugs stimulate the pancreas, thus the body produces more insulin. They are taken before meals one to two times ever day or as advised by the physician. Some possible unwanted side effects are low blood sugar and weight gain. However, they differ in negative effects, the number of times taken and interactions with other medicines and they include:

  • Glimepiride (Amaryl)
  • Gliclazide
  • Chlorpropamide (Diabinese)
  • Tolbutamide ( Orinase, Tol-Tab)
  • Tolazamide (Tolinase)


These oral medications decrease the amount of sugar released by the liver. Additionally, these meds make the muscle tissues more sensitive to glucose; therefore, the sugars are absorbed easily and reduce the quantity of glucose absorbed by the intestines. Metformin (Glucophage, Metformin Hydrochloride ER, Glumetza, Riomet, Fortamet) is the most common type 2 diabetes medication in this category and it is taken twice per day or as per the Physician prescription. An example of unwanted side effect with Metformin is diarrhea, which is improved when the medicine is taken with food or once the body become used to the drug.


This class of meds to treat T2D works in a similar manner like Sulfonylureas by prompting the pancreas to produce more insulin, although they act faster and the time span of their effect on your body are very short. The drugs lead to lower blood sugar, but when compared with Sulfonylureas, the risk of Meglitinides is higher.

  • Nateglinide (Starlix)
  • Repaglinide (Prandin)
  • Repaglinide-Metformin ( Prandimet)


The medication for diabetes type 2 in this group enable insulin to work better in the muscles and decrease glucose production by the liver. Nonetheless, the drugs are associated with weight gain and more severe undesirable effects such as heart disease, fractures, and liver problems. Because of these possible complications, the drugs are not in the first line options, but if the medical care provider prescribes any of them, he or she will closely monitor your heart function in the course of the treatment.

Examples of these medicines are:

  • Rosiglitazone (Avandia)
  • Rosiglitazone- glimepiride (Avandaryl)
  • Rosiglitazone-Metformin (Amaryl M)
  • Pioglitazone (Actos)

DPP- 4 inhibitors

These drugs for T2D lowers blood glucose levels without causing low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). They enable the pancreas to continue producing more insulin and such medicines are:

GLP-1 receptor agonists

This class of diabetes medications type 2 slows digestion and aid in lowering blood glucose levels. They are linked with loss of weight and they should not be used alone. Liraglutide (Victoza) and Exenatide (Byetta) falls under this category. The drugs are taken through injections.

Sodium-glucose transporter (SGLT) 2 inhibitors

They are the newest T2D medicines on the market and they prevent the kidneys from reabsorbing glucose into the blood. Instead, the body gets rid of the sugar through the urine. The unfavorable effects can entail yeast infections, urinary tract infections, hypotension and increased urination because of elevated sugar levels in the urine.

Examples are:

Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors

This category of diabetes type 2 medications aids the body to slow breakdown of starchy foods and table salt, hence lowering blood sugar levels. To get the best results, take the medicines before meals. Some possible side effects are gas and diarrhea.

Acarbose (Precose) and Miglitol (Glyset) belongs to this class of meds.

Bile Acid Sequestrants (BASs)

They are cholesterol lowering drugs that are also used as T2D medicines. The bile acid sequestrants aids in removing cholesterol from the body, especially LDL cholesterol which is often high in diabetic patients. The drugs bind together with bile acids in your digestive system, in turn, the body uses cholesterol to substitute the bile acid and consequently, cholesterol levels are lowered. BASs aren’t absorbed into the bloodstream; hence they are safe for individuals who can’t use other meds for diabetes type 2 because of liver problems. Colesevelam (Welchol) is an example of bile acid sequestrants.

Can insulin be used on a patient with type 2 diabetes?

Most people associate taking insulin with diabetes type 1. But some individuals with type 2 diabetes may be put on insulin therapy even though they had not required it before. Some patient may need insulin for a short period of time, because of situations like pregnancy, cancer, surgery and broken bones. One can be on permanent insulin usage. Sometimes your pancreas may not release adequate insulin, especially as one age. Weight gain and chronic stress can make a patient insulin resistant. At times type 2 diabetes medications stop working and you are left with no option, but to switch to insulin therapy, therefore there are many reasons for using insulin.



Disclaimer: Please note that the contents of this community article are strictly for informational purposes and should not be considered as medical advice. This article, and other community articles, are not written or reviewed for medical validity by Canadian Insulin or its staff. All views and opinions expressed by the contributing authors are not endorsed by Canadian Insulin. Always consult a medical professional for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.