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Diabetes Library: Care of Diabetes

Medicines for Diabetes

Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors

There are now two alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, acarbose (AK-er-bose) and miglitol (MIG-leh-tall). Both medicines block the enzymes that digest the starches you eat. This action causes a slower and lower rise of blood sugar through the day, but mainly right after meals.

Neither acarbose nor miglitol causes blood sugar to get too low (hypoglycemia) when it is the only diabetes medicine you take.

The generic names of alpha-glucosidase inhibitors are acarbose miglitol. The brand names are Precose and Glyset.

How often should I take acarbose or miglitol?

You should take acarbose of miglitol three times a day, at each meal. Your doctor might ask you to take the medicine less often at first.

What are possible side effects?

Taking this pill may cause stomach problems (gas, bloating, and diarrhea) that most often go away after you take the medicine for a while.


This type of medicine helps your muscles make better use of your insulin. The only medicine now in this group is called troglitazone (tro-GLIT-uh-zone).

Troglitazone doesn't cause blood sugar to get too low when it is the only diabetes medicine you take.

The generic name for thiazolidinediones is troglitazone. The brand name is Rezulin.

How often should I take troglitazone?

You should usually once a day with the same meal at the same time each day. Ask your doctor when you should take it. Your body uses this medicine best if you take it with your largest meal of the day.

What are possible side effects of troglitazone?

Most people can take troglitazone without any side effects. A small number of people may get liver problems or liver failure from troglitazone. Before you start taking troglitazone, your doctor should do a test to make sure your liver is healthy. If you start taking troglitazone, your doctor should regularly check how your liver is working.

If you take birth control pills, you should know that troglitazone might make your birth control pills less effective in preventing pregnancy. Make sure your doctor knows that you take birth control pills.


Meglitinides (meh-GLIT-in-ides) are a new type of diabetes medicine. Repaglinide (re-PAG-lyn-ide) is the name of a meglitinide. This medicine helps your pancreas make more insulin right after meals, which lowers blood sugar. Your doctor might prescribe repaglinide by itself or with metformin (another diabetes medicine) if one medicine alone does not control your blood sugar levels.

The generic name for meglitinides is repaglinide. The brand name is Prandin.

A good thing about repaglinide is that it works fast and your body uses it quickly. This fast action means you can vary the times you eat and the number of meals you eat more easily using repaglinide than you can using other diabetes medicines.

How often should I take repaglinide?

Your doctor will tell you to take repaglinide 30 minutes before you eat a meal. If you skip a meal, you should not take the dose of repaglinide.

What are possible side effects of repaglinide?

The side effects are hypoglycemia and weight.

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