Heard about pills for diabetes? Wondering how the pills work and who they are designed to help?

We asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to update us on pills for diabetes. Hereís what we learned.


We know: All About Diabetes Pills

Whatís a diabetes pill?

A diabetes pill is an oral diabetes medication that helps lower blood sugar. These pills are not insulin.

Who can take diabetes pills?

Diabetes pills are designed to help people with Type 2 diabetes. They only work for someone whose pancreas still makes some insulin. They donít help people with Type 1 diabetes.

What happens in Type 2 diabetes?

Our bodies need glucose to function properly. When glucose enters our blood, the pancreas normally produces the correct amount of insulin to help move the glucose into our cells.


People with Type 2 diabetes have trouble producing insulin properly and, as a result, their bodies have an excess of glucose in the bloodstream and in their urine.

How do diabetes pills help?

Diabetes pills work in one of three ways: by stimulating the pancreas to release more insulin, by increasing the bodyís sensitivity to insulin, or by slowing the breakdown of foods into glucose.

What are the names of diabetes pills?

The six categories of pills and some of their generic and brand names are:


CategoryGeneric NameBrand Name
SulfonylureasChlorpropamideDiabinese
MeglitinidesRepaglinidePrandin
NateglinidesNateglinideStarlix
BiguanidesMetforminGlucophage
ThiazolidinedionesRosiglitazoneAvandia
Alpha-glucose InhibitorsAcarbosePrecose


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