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Choosing Drugs: Oral Diabetes Drugs

If You Have Type 2 Diabetes When you have diabetes, you have too much glucose, or sugar, in your blood. is can cause serious health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, and blindness. People with diabetes who do not lower their blood sugar usually live about 8 years less than people who do not have diabetes.

Lowering Your Blood Sugar Some people with type 2 diabetes can lower their blood sugar by changing the way they eat, by exercising, and by losing weight. Over time, most people also need an oral diabetes drugs.

  • e Best Drugs at the Lowest Cost

  • ere are 6 groups of oral diabetes drugs. Each group

has a dierent active ingredient and works in a dierent way. e chart on the other side of this fact sheet compares the 6 groups of drugs.

Newer drugs cost more, but they mightnot work better. For example, Starlix, Januvia, and Onglyza are newer, brand-name drugs. ey cost $238 to $282 per month. But they do not lower blood sugar as well as the older, generic drugs, like metformin and glipizide, which cost only about $4 to $35 per month.

Newer drugs might not be safer. All oral diabetes drugs can have side eects, such as low blood sugar that is too low (hypoglycemia), weight gain, nausea, and swelling in the legs and ankles (edema). Older drugs have been around longer, so the side eects are better known. Two of the newer drugs, Actos and Avandia, are linked to a higher risk of heart failure and bone fractures. Because of its risks, our medical advisors recommend that Actos only be a last resort choice. Avandia, and combination products that contain it, Avandamet and Avandaryl, are no longer available at pharmacies. Your doctor must register you into a special program to use them.

Two drugs might work better than one. Some people need 2 drugs to lower their blood sugar to a normal range. However, taking more than one diabetes drug raises the risk of side eects and increases costs.

Our advice:

We chose the following as Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs. All are low-cost generics. Discuss these choices with your doctor.

  • Metformin and Metformin Sustained Release alone or with glipizide or glimepiride

  • Glipizide and Glipizide Sustained Release alone or with metformin

  • Glimepiride alone or with metformin

We recommend trying metformin rst, unless you have kidney disease or heart failure. If metformin does not lower your blood sugar enough, ask your doctor to add glipizide or glimepiride.

For more information on diabetes drugs and many other medicines, visit our free website, www.CRBestBuyDrugs.org

You could save hundreds of dollars a month by switching to generic metformin, a Consumer Reports Best Buy Drug.

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