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What is Gliclazide?

By T. Broderick
Updated May 17, 2024
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Gliclazide is a medication prescribed to individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus to counteract the insulin resistance caused by the disease. The medication works by prompting the pancreas to release more insulin. Roughly 10% of patients initially prescribed the medication do not receive any benefit from the drug and must take a secondary or completely different medication. Physicians are unable to prescribe gliclazide under certain conditions. Side effects of the medication, though mild, can occur.

In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas becomes insulin resistant, meaning high blood glucose levels no longer prompt the pancreas to release insulin. Prolonged high blood glucose levels cause the degeneration of many organ systems including the heart, kidneys and eyes. Gliclazide, like all medications in the sulfonylurea family, prompt the release of insulin by manipulating the sodium and potassium pumps inside the pancreas. Blood glucose levels fall; the individual taking the medication can live a healthier life as he or she modifies the lifestyle choices that initially caused type 2 diabetes.

Ninety percent of individuals who use gliclazide to manage their type 2 diabetes need no extra medication. For the remaining 10%, a number of factors necessitate different or additional medication. For example, patients who are morbidly obese at the time of diagnosis generally have better success with metformin, a widely prescribed anti-diabetic drug that has the added benefit of lowering both LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. An individual's specific biology also plays a role in causing gliclazide to become ineffective. In these cases, the addition of a second anti-diabetic drug such as thiazolidinedione creates a successful treatment regimen.

Gliclazide is never an effective treatment for type 1 diabetes as the pancreas can no longer produce insulin. Due to the risks the drug poses to unborn and nursing children, physicians also do not prescribe gliclazide to pregnant women and those who have given birth within the past six months. As the medication can also cause a host of drug interactions, many individuals may require other medication to treat their type 2 diabetes. Before beginning treatment with any medication, it is necessary to give one's physician a full medical history including any medications one is currently or has recently stopped taking.

Like all medications, gliclazide may cause some side effects. If the medication is taken improperly, possibly dangerous hypoglycemia can result. Like with most anti-diabetic drugs, upset stomach is the most common symptom. A temporary rash, though rare, need not cause alarm. If symptoms persist for more than a week, changing medication may become necessary to improve one's quality of life.

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