The type of medication used for diabetes depends on the type of the disease, but Type 1 diabetics require replacement insulin. Type 2 diabetics sometimes manage their condition with diet alone, but may also require oral medications or replacement insulin, according to Drugs.com.
Sulfonylureas such as Amaryl stimulate the pancreas to produce more insulin. Meglitinides, while a different class of drugs, also stimulate the beta cells of the pancreas. Biguanides such as metformin decrease the amount of glucose the liver produces, according to American Diabetes Association. Thiazolidinediones help the body make better use of its available insulin. Side effects of some of these older medications include hypoglycemia, where the blood glucose drops to dangerous levels.
Newer drugs such as dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors lower the blood glucose level without the risk of hypoglycemia. DPP-4 inhibitors slow the breakdown of a naturally occurring enzyme that breaks down blood glucose, but only when levels are high, reports the American Diabetes Association. Sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 inhibitors increase the amount of glucose the kidneys filter from the blood but also increase the chance of yeast infections. Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors slow the breakdown of starches and some sugars the patient ingests, preventing spikes in blood glucose.
Because these medications work in different manners to improve blood sugar control in Type 2 diabetics, doctors sometimes prescribe them in combinations for greater control. However, the use of drug combinations also increases the risk of side effects, indicates the American Diabetes Association.