Skip to main content
Understanding medicine

Most people need medicine to control their type 2 diabetes.

Medicine helps keep your blood sugar level as normal as possible to prevent health problems. You may have to take it for the rest of your life.

Diabetes usually gets worse over time, so your medicine or dose may need to change.

Adjusting your diet and being active is usually necessary to keep your blood sugar level down.

Diabetes medicines help lower the amount of sugar in your blood.

Important

There are many types of medicine for type 2 diabetes. It can take time to find a medicine and dose that's right for you.

You'll usually be offered a medicine called metformin first.

If your blood sugar levels are not lower after taking metformin, you may need another medicine.

Over time, you may need a combination of medicines. Your GP or diabetes nurse will recommend the medicines most suitable for you.

Insulin is not often used for type 2 diabetes in the early years. It's usually needed when other medicines no longer work.

Find out more about diabetes tablets and medication from Diabetes UK

Your GP or diabetes nurse will explain how to take your medicine and how to store it.

If you need to inject insulin, they'll show you how.

Your diabetes medicine may cause side effects.

These can include:

Not everyone has side effects.

If you feel unwell after taking medicine or notice any side effects, speak to your GP or diabetes nurse.

Do not stop taking medicine without getting advice.

You're entitled to free prescriptions for your diabetes medicine.

To claim your free prescriptions, you'll need to apply for an exemption certificate. This is known as a PF57 form.

To do this:

Save your receipts if you have to pay for diabetes medicine before you receive your exemption certificate. You can claim the money back if you include the receipts along with your completed PF57 form.

If you're going on holiday: