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Oral Diabetes Medicines

Diabetes medications are generally divided into classes. Each medicine in a particular class works in the same way. Therefore, it is unlikely that someone would be given more than one medicine from the same class. The common classes of diabetes medicines include:
  • Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors
  • Biguanides
  • Dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors (DPP-4 inhibitors)
  • Ergot alkaloids
  • Meglitinides
  • Sulfonylureas
  • Thiazolidinediones (more commonly "glitazones")
  • Sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 inhibitors (SGLT2 inhibitors)
  • Bile acid sequestrants.
Alpha-Glucosidase Inhibitors
Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors work by slowing down the absorption of carbohydrates from the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This helps lower post-meal blood sugar levels. Available medicines in this class include acarbose (Precose®) and miglitol (Glyset®).
As previously mentioned, Kazano contains the biguanide metformin. In fact, metformin is the only currently available biguanide medication. It works by helping cells in the body take up and use insulin better. This class of medicines also decreases the amount of glucose made by the liver. Metformin is also available in an extended-release form (metformin ER [Glucophage XR®, Glutametz®, and Fortamet®]) and as metformin oral solution (Riomet®).
DPP-4 Inhibitors
As previously mentioned, Kazano contains the DPP-4 inhibitor alogliptin. This class of medicines is also sometimes simply called "gliptins." They work by slowing the breakdown of incretin, a hormone that helps to control blood sugar. Other DPP-4 inhibitors include:
Ergot Alkaloids
Ergot alkaloids are more commonly known to treat Parkinson's disease and migraine headaches. However, there is one ergot alkaloid approved for the treatment of diabetes: bromocriptine (Cycloset®).
Although the exact way bromocriptine works to control blood sugar is not completely understood, it is thought to work by binding to and stimulating dopamine receptors. People with diabetes have low dopamine levels in the morning, which may interfere with the body's ability to control blood sugar. By increasing dopamine receptor activity, bromocriptine lowers blood sugar without increasing insulin.
Meglitinides work by stimulating the pancreas to make more insulin. They are quite effective at controlling blood sugar, but also carry the risk of causing dangerously low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Available meglitinides include nateglinide (Starlix®) and repaglinide (Prandin®).
This class of medicines also works by stimulating insulin secretion by the pancreas. They are also quite effective, and also carry the risk for hypoglycemia. Many sulfonylurea medicines are available, including:
Glitazones work by making the body more sensitive to insulin, which means they help the body use its natural insulin better. This class includes the medications pioglitazone (Actos®) and rosiglitazone (Avandia®).
Sodium-Glucose Co-Transporter 2 Inhibitors
SGLT2 inhibitors work by causing glucose to be lost from the bloodstream into the urine. There are three approved medications in this class: Invokana® (canagliflozin), Jardiance® (empagliflozin), and Farxiga™ (dapagliflozin). These medications tend to lower blood pressure and cause a small amount of weight loss, which can often be desirable effects in people with type 2 diabetes.
Bile Acid Sequestrants
Often overlooked as a diabetes drug, Welchol® (colesevelam) is a bile acid sequestrant that was initially approved for treating high cholesterol but was later approved for treating type 2 diabetes. It helps to lower both blood sugar and cholesterol levels, which can be very useful in many people with diabetes. The downside is that the usual dosage involves taking six tablets a day. It can also bind with (and therefore interact with) some other drugs.
Diabetes Tips for Seniors

Kazano Medication Information

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