This drug goes with that … or does it?

By Donna Itzstein
Diabetes Queensland Pharmacist


Your diabetes medications generally work well together. Each family of diabetes medication works in a different way to lower your blood glucose levels (BGLs).


Diabetes medications act on several organs such as the pancreas, kidney, brain, liver and gut. They also act at a cellular level.


If you are prescribed a medication that increases your risk of hypoglycaemia, (BGLs below 4mmol/l), it's a good idea when you start taking it to monitor your BGLs frequently until they become steady.


If you have any incidents of hypoglycaemia, report them to your doctor.


When starting a new medication consider:


  • New diabetes medications may increase your risk of hypoglycaemia (BGLs below 4mmol/l).
  • Herbal or complementary medicines may affect the way your body removes or reacts to your current diabetes medications. Herbal medications may also have a direct effect on your BGLs. 
  • Adding a new medication for other conditions besides diabetes, such as asthma, can also affect your current diabetes medications. Some medications may have a direct effect on your BGLs or mask the symptoms of high or low BGLs.
  • Alcohol can increase or decrease your BGLs. When your BGLs are low, glucose is released from the liver. Alcohol is also broken down in the liver, so when the liver is busy processing the alcohol, it may not release enough glucose to keep your BGLs steady.


Who can you ask? Talk with your pharmacist and doctor before starting any new medication or herbal remedy. The best two questions to ask are:


  • How will this new medication/herbal remedy affect management of my diabetes?
  • How can alcohol affect my BGLs when taking these medications?


For more information regarding diabetes medications please read the NDSS information sheet Medications for type 2 diabetes.


For enquiries regarding this topic please call Diabetes Queensland on 1800 177 055.


Being a member of Diabetes Queensland connects you with one of Australia's largest diabetes community, their families, carers, supporters and health professionals. Renew your membership today. 



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