Top Medications for Diabetics in 2023

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Chris Riley
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Chris Riley

Chris is the Founder and CEO of USA Rx. Chris has led the USA Rx team to continue to push for further transparency and more savings options in the U.S. prescription marketplace for the Diabetes community. With COVID-19 transforming and normalizing how consumers view and use digital health, Chris led the transformation of the USA Rx brand to a digital health marketplace.

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Last Updated on September 24, 2023

Diabetes is a severe health complication that can cause dozens of different adverse problems, especially if it isn’t carefully managed. Luckily, there are plenty of options for safely managing glucose levels and ensuring that you have a clean bill of health. Every person’s diabetes diagnosis is different, so everyone is going to need different and the best diabetes medicine, treatments and combinations.

In early 2020, the National Diabetes Statistics report was released.  Here are the key findings according to the CDC:

Key findings include:

  • 34.2 million Americans—just over 1 in 10—have diabetes.
  • 88 million American adults—approximately 1 in 3—have prediabetes.
  • New diabetes cases were higher among non-Hispanic blacks and people of Hispanic origin than non-Hispanic Asians and non-Hispanic whites.
  • For adults diagnosed with diabetes:
    • New cases significantly decreased from 2008 through 2018.
    • The percentage of existing cases was highest among American Indians/Alaska Natives.
    • 15% were smokers, 89% were overweight, and 38% were physically inactive.
    • 37% had chronic kidney disease (stages 1 through 4); and fewer than 25% with moderate to severe chronic kidney disease (stage 3 or 4) were aware of their condition.
  • New diagnosed cases of type 1 and type 2 diabetes have significantly increased among US youth.
  • For ages 10 to 19 years, incidence of type 2 diabetes remained stable among non-Hispanic whites and increased for all others, especially non-Hispanic blacks.
  • The percentage of adults with prediabetes who were aware they had the condition doubled between 2005 and 2016, but most continue to be unaware.

Anyone diagnosed with diabetes has the advantage (or disadvantage) of choosing between close to 100 different medications. To treat diabetes, there are eight main categories of drugs used.These categories include: metformin (usually the most common diabetes medications), sulfonylureas, meglitinides, thiazolidinediones, DPP-4 inhibitors, alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, SGLT2 inhibitors, or bile acid sequestrates. Each case of diabetes is different, meaning that each medication will work differently for every person. A primary physician will decide which can be the best diabetes medicine that works for each situation.


best diabetes medications Glucophage (or the generic name metformin HCL) is one of the most common diabetes medications drugs that a doctor will prescribe to a new diabetic. Glucophage is an oral form of metformin to reduce high blood glucose levels. Metformin improves insulin sensitivity in the body’s tissue, allowing the body to use insulin more effectively.

Side effects of the drug include nausea, upset stomach, weakness/fatigue, or a metallic taste. Most patients using Glucophage (or the generic version) rarely experience serious side effects.


Glynase is a popular diabetes medication that falls under the sulfonylureas drug category. Glynase is also one of the most popular diabetes drugs that a doctor will prescribe as the first treatment for a new diabetic. Sulfonylurea creates a rise in calcium, which stimulates the pancreas to release more insulin, meaning that this drug is only effective in type 2 diabetics.

Sulfonylureas are one of the oldest discovered drugs to combat diabetes, meaning that there is plenty of testing done using the drugs. Some of the side effects of the drug include hypoglycemia, lessened kidney function, and weight gain.


Prandin is a popular oral blood glucose medication that is classified as a meglitinide medication. Meglitinide drugs work similarly to sulfonylureas in the effect they have and how they achieve it. Prandin and other meglitinide drugs all bind to the same sulfonylurea receptor in beta cells, but at a different part. The main difference between the two types of drugs is that meglitinide drugs are faster acting, but wear off quicker than sulfonylurea drugs like Glynase. Prandin has few side effects, but users may experience weight gain, diarrhea, or joint pain.


Thiazolidinediones work similarly to metformin drugs. These drugs increase insulin sensitivity inside the body’s tissue. One of the most popular diabetes drugs in this category is Avandia (generic version is rosiglitazone).

The side effects of Avandia can be more severe than the other possible drugs. Some of the side effects listed for Avandia include shortness of breath, rapid weight gain, chest pain, pain in the arm, sweating, nausea, stomach pain, minor fever, or loss of appetite.


Januvia, or the generic sitagliptin phosphate, tends to have a slower and less explosive effect compared to the other popular drugs. Januvia falls under the DPP-4 inhibitors drug category. DPP-4 inhibitors increase incretin levels, which then increase insulin secretion to lower blood glucose levels.  Januvia has a recommended dosage of 100 mg once a day, but the dosage amount will change based on the severity of the condition.

Side effects of Januvia of rare and often minor. These side effects could include: anxiety, blurry vision, cold sweats, cough, body aches, ear congestion, fever, sneezing, sore throat, headache, rapid heartbeat, nausea, an increase of appetite, confusion, shakiness, and several others. Very few patients taking Januvia have reported suffering from any of these symptoms, but users should be aware of the possibility.


Invokana is one of the newer drugs to enter the diabetes medication market, being approved in 2013. Invokana is in pill form, taken once a day and is classified as an SGLT2 inhibitor. These drugs work differently than other type 2 diabetes medications by targeting the kidneys. SLGT2 inhibitors work by blocking the use of SGLT2 protein, which prevents the kidneys from reabsorbing glucose into the bloodstream.

Some of the side effects of Invokana and other SGLT2 inhibitors include frequent urination, genital infections, high potassium levels, increased cholesterol, kidney problems, or low blood sugar.


Precose (or the generic name Acarbose) is one of the most popular drugs of the alpha-glucosidase inhibitors. Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors slow the digestion of carbohydrates, which decreases the effect that foods have on blood glucose levels. Precose slows down the digestion of complex carbs but does not affect the change simple sugars will have.

Precose is taken right before a meal, and can be prescribed with another diabetes medication or insulin. Users of Precose could experience hives, trouble breathing, yellow eyes, bloated feeling, stomach pain, or diarrhea.


Welchol is used as both a cholesterol-lowering drug and as a treatment for type 2 diabetes and is classified as a bile acid sequestrates drug. Welchol binds bile acids known as glychoholic acid, which lowers cholesterol and controls blood glucose levels. The exact reason that Welchol and other bile acid sequestrates drugs reduce glucose levels is unknown.

Welchol is taking in pill form, recommended six pills once every daily, or 3 pills twice every day, and should be taken with a meal. Reported side effects of Welchol include constipation, hypoglycemia, hypertension, nausea, and a few others.


Rybelsus is a new drug that is designed to treat type 2 diabetes.  According to Healthline, the drug is the first glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1) treatment that doesn’t need to be injected.

Rybelsus is designed to mimic a glucaon-like petide receptor that will prevent the liver from making excess sugar.  It will also help your pancreas produce more insulin.

Individuals with type 2 diabetes often do not have enough of this protein.  Due to this, many doctors will begin prescribing a GLP-1 medication.  The FDA has stated that Rybelsus contains a boxed warning about a possible increased risk of thyroid C-cell tumors and other side effects.  


Metformin is one of the better known medications used to treat people with type 2 diabetes.  It’s also one the oldest and most widely used medications.

Web Md States: “Metformin is used with a proper diet and exercise program and possibly with other medications to control high blood sugar. It is used in patients with type 2 diabetes. Controlling high blood sugar helps prevent kidney damage, blindness, nerve problems, loss of limbs, and sexual function problems. Proper control of diabetes may also lessen your risk of a heart attack or stroke. Metformin works by helping to restore your body’s proper response to the insulin you naturally produce. It also decreases the amount of sugar that your liver makes and that your stomach/intestines absorb.”


Each drug has advantages and disadvantages for each person. While there are dozens of different drug classes and types, never take any popular diabetes medications without first consulting your doctor. Your doctor may prescribe any of the drugs or a combination of the drugs.

Aside from prescribing you different medications, your physician will also suggest several lifestyle changes to help manage your diabetes as well. These lifestyle changes could have a wonderful impact on your glucose levels and even eliminate any diabetes symptoms that you suffer from. Two simple lifestyle changes that you should implement are your diet and your exercise program.

Starting a healthy diet and getting regular exercise can work wonders on your overall health. Switching out the junk food for healthier options can help you shed extra weight, lower your cholesterol, and keep your glucose levels from spiking through the roof. Additionally, exercise can help you manage your glucose levels and also help you lose some more weight.

Aside from helping you control your diabetes, it’s also going to help you secure better life insurance rates. Before the insurance company approves your applications for life insurance coverage, they are going to require that you take a medical exam (unless you purchase a no exam life insurance policy). The main purpose of the medical exam is to give the insurance company an idea of what your overall health is and how much of risk you are to insure.

The medication that you take to manage your diabetes is going to play a huge role in how much you have to pay for your life insurance policy. When you apply for life insurance, the company is going to ask several questions about how you manage your condition. Being prescribed the proper medications for your type 2 diabetes will be crucial in the eyes of an underwriter.  Before applying for coverage you will want to be 100% certain that your A1C and control of diabetes is ideal.

If you have to use several medications to manage your glucose levels, you’re going to receive much higher premiums versus a diabetic that has to take fewer medications. If you want to get an affordable life insurance policy as a diabetic, you’ll need to work towards managing your glucose levels and reducing the amount of medication that you’re required to take.

Life insurance is one of the most important investments that you’ll ever make, but as a diabetic that uses medication, it’s going to be more difficult to find the best life insurance plan. Luckily, we are here to help. We are a group of independent insurance agents whose mission is to help connect you with the perfect life insurance policy to fit your needs.

Unlike a traditional insurance agent, our independent agents don’t work with one single company. Instead, we represent dozens of highly rated companies across the nation. Each insurance company is different, and all of them are going to look at your medication and diabetes differently, which means that you could get drastically different rates depending on which company that you choose.

There are hundreds of different companies on the market that you could choose from. Your time is valuable, don’t waste it calling different agents to receive quotes. Our agents can bring all of the lowest rates directly to you. No hassle and no fuss.

Matt Schmidt is a nationally licensed diabetes insurance expert. Over this time frame he's helped out over 10,000 clients secure life insurance coverage with Diabetes. He's frequently authors content to Forbes, Entrepreneur, The Simple Dollar, GoBanking Rates, MSN,, and Yahoo Finance and many more.

Matt Schmidt is also the Co-Founder of Diabetes Life Solutions and Licensed Insurance agent. He’s been working with the Diabetes community for over 18 years to find consumers the best life insurance policies.  Since 2011, he has been a qualified non-member of MDRT, the most prestigious life insurance trade organization in the USA

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