Type 2 Diabetes can be treated with oral or injectable medication, in addition to insulin. Medications help some patients to achieve target blood glucose levels. There are five classes of oral medications typically used to treat diabetes in the United States today, and doctors sometimes prescribe a combination of different drugs. In addition, two new injectable have been introduced. The American Diabetes Association offers an overview of diabetes medications such as Biguanides, Sonfonylureas, Meglitinides, Thiazolidinediones, and Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors. Diabetes management involves regular doctor visits and home test strips used to monitor blood sugar levels.
For patients not covered by health insurance, diabetes medication costs $4 to $100 per month for metformin, the most commonly prescribed and recommended first-line diabetes drug for patients who have been unable to achieve target glucose levels with diet and exercise. The price of generic metformin would be at the lower end of the range, while a brand name such as Glucophage or Glucophage XR would be on the higher end.
For patients without health insurance, diabetes medication costs $8 to $200 per month or more for metformin taken along with another diabetes drug, such as one of a class of medications called sulfonylureas, such as brand name Glucotrol or Diabinese -- or one of a class of drugs called alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, such as brand names Precose and Glyset. It is common for a doctor, if metformin alone does not control blood glucose sufficiently, to add another drug.
For patients without health insurance, diabetes medication costs $200 to $500 or more a month for a multi-drug regimen that could include other classes of oral medications, including newer medications such as the brand name Januvia, or injectable medications such as the brand name Byetta. If first-line medications do not achieve target blood glucose levels, or if the patient cannot tolerate the side effects, or if certain drugs are contraindicated for a patient for reasons such as heart disease or other illnesses, a doctor might try other medications, often in combinations. Doctors often will take cost into account when prescribing medications if the patient requests it.
Diabetes medications are covered by most health insurance plans because they are considered medically necessary. Medicare generally covers diabetes medications. The American Diabetes Association has a guide to Medicare and diabetes prescription drug benefits. For patients covered by insurance, typical out-of-pocket costs consist of a prescription drug copay ranging from $10 to $50, depending on the drug. If the patient takes multiple drugs, copays can total $200 a month or more.
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It is important that people with diabetes and their loved ones learn as much as possible about the latest medical therapies and approaches, as well as healthy lifestyle choices.