Diabetes Drugs Cheat Sheet

By Dr. Eva Martin of Elm Tree Medical Inc.

For those worried about the confusing world of diabetes drugs (either for themselves or for prescribing to others), I hope you'll enjoy this helpful infographic. Each year, a new diabetes drug seems to hit the market and with it, a new layer of complexity to treating this multifaceted disease. The April 2016 Green Journal features a Clinical Expert Series with the latest on medical management of Type 2 Diabetes by Dr. Inzucchi and Dr. Majumdar.  This blog post is a graphic cheat sheet that will hopefully make for an easier pill to swallow.

By way of a little background- here are some quick stats on what a common problem diabetes has become for Americans. When American seniors reach retirement age, 26% have a diagnosis of diabetes.

Biguanide: Metformin

Metformin originated from an old folk remedy from a plant called goat's rue, French lilac, or Italian fitch. Medieval health providers used it to treat symptoms of diabetes.

Sulfonylureas: Glyburide

French doctors in the mid-1940's were feverishly working to treat typhoid fever when the noticed that their patients who received a new sulfonamide antibiotic had episodes of low blood sugar. The observation led to the discovery of sulfonylureas for diabetes treatment.

Thiazolidnediones: Pioglitazone

Japanese researchers discovered the wondrous glucose-altering properties of this class of drugs while they were trying to develop a drug to lower lipids.

GLP-1 Receptor Agonists: Exenatide

The first drug in this class, Exenatide, was heroically foraged from the saliva of the Gila monster.

DPP-4 Inhibitors: Sitagliptin

State of the art research revealed the impressive properties of a family of substances called incretins, leading the top gun pharma researchers to zero in on these newer classes of drugs.

SGLT-2 Inhibitors: Canagliflozin

This final drug class originated in the 1800s, when its precursor was isolated from the bark of apple trees as a remedy for a variety of diseases.

If you haven't had enough of diabetes drugs, the full article has some great treatment algorithms to guide you through using your newfound expertise on medical therapies for Type 2 Diabetes.