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Diabetes Drugs: Summary of Recommendations
Six types of oral medicines (and 12 individual drugs) are now available to help the 25.8 million people in the U.S. with type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar when diet and lifestyle changes are not enough. Our evaluation of these medicines found the following:
  • Newer drugs are no better. Two drugs from a class called the sulfonylureas and a drug named metformin have been around for more than a decade and work just as well as newer medicines. Indeed, several of the newer drugs, such as Januvia and Onglyza, are less effective than the older ones.
  • Newer drugs are no safer. All diabetes pills have the potential to cause adverse effects, both minor and serious. The drugs' safety and side effect "profiles" may be the most important factor in your choice.
  • The newer drugs are more expensive. The newer diabetes medicines cost many times more than the older ones.
  • Taking more than one diabetes drug is sometimes necessary. Many people with diabetes do not get enough blood sugar control from one medicine. Two or more may be necessary. However, taking more than one diabetes drug raises the risk of adverse effects and increases costs.
Taking effectiveness, safety, adverse effects, dosing, and cost into consideration, we have chosen the following as Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs if your doctor and you have decided that you need medicine to control your diabetes:
  • 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

These medicines are available as low-cost generics, costing from $4 to $35 a month. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, we recommend that you try metformin first unless your health status prevents it. If metformin fails to bring your blood sugar into normal range, we recommend you add glipizide or glimepiride.

This report was updated in December 2012.

Cost comparison of diabetes drugs
Note: If the price box contains a , that indicates the dose of that drug is available for a low monthly cost through programs offered by large chain stores. For example, Kroger, Sam's Club, Target, and Walmart offer a month's supply of selected generic drugs for $4 or a three-month supply for $10. Other chain stores, such as Costco, CVS, Kmart, and Walgreens, offer similar programs. Some programs have restrictions or membership fees, so check the details carefully for restrictions and to make sure your drug is covered.


Recommendations: Diabetes Drugs
CR Best Buy Generic Name and Dose Brand Name (or Generic) Number of Pills (Per day)1 Total Daily Dose1 Average Monthly Cost2 Compare Prices
Acarbose 25 mg Generic Three 75 mg $78
Acarbose 50 mg Generic Three 150 mg $85
Acarbose 100 mg Generic Three 300 mg $98
Glyburide 1.25 mg Generic One 1.25 mg $9
Glyburide 2.5 mg Generic One 2.5 mg $5
Glyburide 5 mg Generic One 5 mg $6
Glyburide 5 mg Diabeta One 5 mg $51
Glyburide micronized 6 mg Generic One 6 mg $7
Glipizide 5 mg Glucotrol One 5 mg $31
Best Buy Glipizide 5 mg Generic One 5 mg $5
Glipizide 10 mg Glucotrol One 10 mg $51
Best Buy Glipizide 10 mg Generic One 10 mg $4
Glipizide 5 mg, sustained-release Glucotrol XL One 5 mg $31
Best Buy Glipizide 5 mg, sustained-release Generic One 5 mg $10
Glipizide 10 mg sustained-release Glucotrol XL One 10 mg $55
Best Buy Glipizide 10 mg, sustained-release Generic One 10 mg $20
Glimepiride 1 mg Amaryl One 1 mg $31
Best Buy Glimepiride 1 mg Generic One 1 mg $7
Glimepiride 2 mg Amaryl One 2 mg $45
Best Buy Glimepiride 2 mg Generic One 2 mg $8
Glimepiride 4 mg Amaryl One 4 mg $85
Best Buy Glimepiride 4 mg Generic One 4 mg $14
Metformin 500 mg Glucophage Two 1000 mg $76
Best Buy Metformin 500 mg Generic Two 1000 mg $14
Metformin 850 mg Glucophage Two 1700 mg $130
Best Buy Metformin 850 mg Generic Two 1700 mg $24
Metformin 1000 mg Glucophage Two 2000 mg $157
Best Buy Metformin 1000 mg Generic Two 2000 mg $35
Metformin sustained-release 500 mg Glucophage XR One 500 mg $40
Best Buy Metformin sustained-release 500 mg Generic One 500 mg $8
Metformin sustained-release 750 mg Glucophage XR One 750 mg $60
Best Buy Metformin sustained-release 750 mg Generic One 750 mg $25
Saxagliptin 2.5 mg Onglyza One 2.5 mg $282
Saxagliptin 5 mg Onglyza One 5 mg $280
Sitagliptin 100 mg Januvia One 100 mg $275
Sitagliptin 50 mg Januvia One 50 mg $279
Pioglitazone 15 mg Actos One 15 mg $246
Pioglitazone 15 mg Generic One 15 mg $176
Pioglitazone 30 mg Actos One 30 mg $381
Pioglitazone 30 mg Generic One 30 mg $277
Pioglitazone 45 mg Actos One 45 mg $419
Pioglitazone 45 mg Generic One 45 mg $296
Repaglinide 0.5 mg Prandin Three 1.5 mg $347
Repaglinide 1 mg Prandin Three 3 mg $344
Repaglinide 2 mg Prandin Three 6 mg $347
Nateglinide 60 mg Generic Three 180 mg $142
Nateglinide 60 mg Starlix Three 180 mg $238
Nateglinide 120 mg Generic Three 360 mg $142
Nateglinide 120 mg Starlix Three 360 mg $246
Miglitol 25 mg Glyset Three 75 mg $153
Miglitol 50 mg Glyset Three 150 mg $164
Miglitol 100 mg Glyset Three 300 mg $200
Metformin+glipizide 250 mg/2.5 mg Generic One 250 mg/2.5 mg $24
Metformin+glipizide 500 mg/2.5 mg Generic One 500 mg/2.5 mg $27
Metformin+glipizide 500 mg/5 mg Generic One 500 mg/5 mg $27
Metformin+glyburide 250 mg/1.25 mg Generic Two 500 mg/2.5 mg $37
Metformin+glyburide 500 mg/2.5 mg Glucovance Two 1000 mg/5 mg $96
Metformin+glyburide 500 mg/2.5 mg Generic Two 1000 mg/5 mg $41
Metformin+glyburide 500 mg/5 mg Glucovance Two 1000 mg/10 mg $100
Metformin+glyburide 500 mg/5 mg Generic Two 1000 mg/10 mg $31
Pioglitazone+metformin 15 mg/850 mg Actoplus Met One 15 mg/850 mg $188
Pioglitazone+metformin 15 mg/850 mg Generic One 15 mg/850 mg $160
Pioglitazone+metformin 15 mg/500 mg Actoplus Met One 15 mg/500 mg $205
Pioglitazone+metformin 15 mg/500 mg Generic One 15 mg/500 mg $159
Pioglitazone+metformin sustained-release 15 mg/1000 mg Actoplus Met XR One 15 mg/1000 mg $216
Pioglitazone+metformin sustained-release 30 mg/1000 mg Actoplus Met XR One 30 mg/1000 mg $417
Pioglitazone+glimepiride 30 mg/2 mg Duetact One 30 mg/2 mg $393
Pioglitazone+glimepiride 30 mg/4 mg Duetact One 30 mg/4 mg $387
Repaglinide+metformin 2 mg/500 mg Prandimet Three 6 mg/1500 mg $342
Saxagliptin+metformin 2.5 mg/1000 mg Kombiglyze XR One 2.5 mg/1000 mg $146
Saxagliptin+metformin 5 mg/500 mg Kombiglyze XR One 5 mg/500 mg $293
Saxagliptin+metformin 5 mg/1000 mg Kombiglyze XR One 5 mg/1000 mg $286
Sitagliptin+metformin 50 mg/500 mg Janumet Two 100 mg/1000 mg $284
Sitagliptin+metformin 50 mg/1000 mg Janumet Two 100 mg/2000 mg $300
* For space reasons, not all doses are listed.

1. As usually recommended.

2. Prices reflect nationwide retail average for August 2012, rounded to the nearest dollar. Information derived by Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs from data provided by Wolters Kluwer Pharma Solutions, which is not involved in our analysis or recommendations.