Harvard Health Letter

What you should know about: Metformin

If you've been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or you're prediabetic, there's a good chance you've been placed on at least one medication to control your blood glucose levels. Glucose is a sugar that provides energy to the body's cells.

Physicians have several diabetes medications at their disposal (see chart). Some drugs help stimulate the pancreas to make more insulin, a hormone that moves glucose from the blood and into cells, where it's needed for energy. These include meglitinides and sulfonylureas, some of the oldest diabetes drugs.

Other diabetes medications work by inhibiting the production and release of glucose by the liver, so less glucose enters the blood. These medications also make cells more sensitive to the effects of insulin. As a result, more glucose leaves the blood and enters the cells. One such drug is the widely used metformin (Fortamet, Glucophage), which has a long track record of success.

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