Many medications can help increase insulin production in type 1 and 2 diabetes. These include amylin mimetics, incretin mimetics, dipeptidyl-peptidase 4 inhibitors, sulfonylureas, linides, and more.

Diabetes is a group of diseases that cause high blood sugar (glucose) levels. High blood glucose levels are caused by problems in insulin production or function.

Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas when you eat food. It allows sugar to move from the blood into the cells, where it’s used for energy. If the cells of the body are not using insulin well or the body is unable to make enough insulin, glucose can build up in the blood.

The increase in blood glucose levels may lead to uncomfortable and potentially serious symptoms, such as:

  • constant thirst
  • increased urination
  • excessive hunger
  • unintentional or unexplained weight loss
  • fatigue or lack of energy
  • irritability
  • blurry vision
  • wounds that heal more slowly than is typical
  • recurring or frequent infections

There are two main types of diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes develops when the body makes very little insulin or none at all. It’s most often diagnosed during childhood, but it may be diagnosed later in life.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or does not use insulin properly. It’s more commonly seen in adults, but the number of children with type 2 diabetes is increasing.

Both types of diabetes cause a buildup of glucose in the bloodstream. This can lead to serious health problems, including:

  • vision loss
  • kidney damage
  • skin problems
  • hearing impairment
  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • blood circulation problems
  • limb amputation

Most of these complications are preventable with treatment.

Treatment plans for diabetes often involve monitoring blood glucose levels, following a nutrient-dense and balanced diet, and taking medications.

Many of these medications work by raising the body’s insulin levels. Increased insulin production helps deliver the glucose in your blood to your cells. This prevents glucose from building up in your bloodstream.

Numerous classes of medications can help increase insulin production in people with diabetes.

Most of these medications are effective in treating type 2 diabetes. People with this form of diabetes still have the ability to produce insulin, so they often respond better to treatment.

Some of these medications may be used along with insulin injections to manage blood glucose levels in people with type 1 diabetes.

Amylin mimetics

Amylin mimetics are injectable drugs that mimic the hormone amylin your body naturally produces. Amylin mimetics work in your body just like amylin. They stop your body from secreting glucagon, help you feel fuller, and slow down how quickly food leaves your stomach. These medications are used in combination with injectable insulin. They’re used when symptoms of type 1 diabetes do not improve with insulin injections alone.

An example of this type of medication is pramlintide (SymlinPen).

Incretin mimetics

Incretin mimetics are another class of injectable insulin-increasing drugs. They’re often prescribed along with other types of medication to help manage glucose levels. People taking these medications are sometimes encouraged to also eat a more balanced diet and exercise more frequently.

Types of incretin mimetics include:

Dipeptidyl-peptidase 4 inhibitors

Dipeptidyl peptidase 4 inhibitors (DPP-4s) are oral pills that increase the release of insulin from the pancreas, according to 2021 research. They also reduce the release of glucose from the liver. These drugs are often combined with other types of medications to treat people with type 2 diabetes.

Examples of DPP-4s include:


Sulfonylureas are an older class of medication used to treat people with diabetes. They’re usually given orally to those who are unable to manage their blood glucose levels through diet and exercise. They work by increasing the release of insulin from the pancreas to reduce blood glucose levels.

Examples of sulfonylureas include:

  • glyburide (Micronase)
  • glipizide (Glucotrol)
  • glimepiride (Amaryl)
  • chlorpropamide (generic found only in the United States)
  • tolazamide (generic found only in the United States)
  • tolbutamide (generic found only in the United States)


Glinides are oral insulin-increasing drugs given to people with type 2 diabetes, according to 2009 research. Also known as meglitinides, these medications usually take effect more quickly than other options. However, they do not last long and need to be taken multiple times per day.

They’re often prescribed with another medication, especially if symptoms do not improve with diet and lifestyle changes.

Examples of glinides include:

Sticking to a heart-healthy and balanced diet and regularly moving your body can usually help manage blood glucose levels. These lifestyle changes are especially helpful in complementing medical treatment.

If you have either type of diabetes, you should make some simple changes to your diet, including:

Some doctors may recommend that people with diabetes count carbohydrates to better manage their blood sugar. In these cases, it may be helpful to meet regularly with a registered dietitian to make sure you’re staying on track and getting the nutrients you need.

There are other ways to help manage type 1 diabetes other than dietary changes, including:

Everyone’s body is different, so you may respond differently to medication than others with the same type of diabetes.

Talk with your doctor about your treatment options so they can help you find medication and lifestyle modifications that work best for you.