The following guidance on medication in diabetes aims to help prescribers choose the most effective and cost-effective medication. For diabetes medication pathways please refer to our webpage for guidance based on NICE here
NICE NG28 Type 2 diabetes in adults: management (updated Dec 2020)
|Therapeutic Area||Formulary Choices||Cost for 28|
(unless otherwise stated)
|Rationale for decision / comments|
|500mg tablets: £0.95(28) |
850mg tablets: £2.61 (56)
|Offer standard-release metformin as the initial drug treatment for adults with type 2 diabetes
Gradually increase the dose of standard-release metformin over several weeks
to minimise the risk of gastrointestinal side effects in adults with type 2
diabetes e.g. 500mg daily and gradually titrated to 2g per day (or 3g under specialist supervision).
-Continued in patients with Type 2 DM who require Insulin, as Metformin reduces insulin requirements.
- Use with caution in those at risk of a sudden deterioration in kidney function
Metformin has a risk of lactic acidosis in patients with reduced renal function and is contraindicated below eGFR of 30ml/min. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has concluded that metformin-containing medicines can now be used in patients with moderately reduced kidney function (GFR [glomerular filtration rate]=30–59 ml/min) for the treatment of type 2 diabetes
|Metformin 500mg oral powder sachets sugar free (Morningside Healthcare Ltd)||£6.30 (30)||First line for patients unable to swallow solid dosage forms|
|Metformin 500mg/5ml oral solution sugar free||£37.45 (150ml)||Alternative for patients unable to swallow solid dosage forms|
|500mg S/R tablets: £1.80 (56)|
750mg S/R tablets: £2.87 (56) Tariff is £6.40
1000mg S/R tablets:£3.82 (56)
750mg M/R tablets: £2.88 (56) Tariff is £6.40
1000mg S/R tablets: £3.83 (56)
|If an adult with type 2 diabetes experiences gastrointestinal side effects with
standard-release metformin, consider a trial of modified-release metformin.
|Type 2 diabetes treatment only-do not use in T1 diabetes due to risk of DKA
Due to recent studies and updated NICE guidance, SGLT-2 inhibitors (gliflozins) are much favoured as they have been shown to improve outcomes in cardiovascular disease, heart failure and chronic kidney disease. SGLT-2 inhibitors are preferred over DPP-4 inhibitors in most patients. Frail elderly may benefit most from the latter.
For advice on who would be suitable for SGLT-2 inhibitors visit:
ABCD guide to SGLT-2 inhibitors in Type 2 diabetes
Patients treated with gliflozins must keep well hydrated and check for signs of DKA, preferably given guidance on how to check ketone levels
|SURGICAL TREATMENT.SGLT2 inhibitor treatment should be interrupted in patients who are hospitalised for major surgical procedures or acute serious medical illnesses and ketone levels measured, preferably in blood rather than urine. Treatment may be restarted when the ketone values are normal and the patient's condition has stabilised. MHRA alert March 2020
EMA could not find evidence to guide on when to stop or restart SGLT-2s but
FDA recommendations are:
Canagliflozin,dapagliflozin,and empagliflozin should each be temporarily discontinued at least 3 days prior to scheduled surgery.
Ertugliflozin should be temporarily discontinued at least 4 days prior to scheduled surgery.
Blood glucose levels should be carefully monitored following discontinuation of the SGLT-2 inhibitor and managed appropriately prior to surgery.
The SGLT-2 inhibitor may be restarted once the patient’s oral intake is back to baseline and any other risk factors for ketoacidosis are resolved.
|SGLT-2 inhibitors may increase the risk of lower-limb amputation (mainly toes) in patients with type 2 diabetes. Evidence does not show an increased risk for dapagliflozin and empagliflozin though manufacturers warn of the increased risk, which may be a class effect. Preventive foot care is important for all patients with diabetes.
MHRA alert March 2017
|In no particular order||Dapagliflozin||5mg tablets: £36.59 |
10mg tablets: £36.59
Use 5mg only in patients with chronic liver disease
|For the improvement of glycaemic control treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus of in adults in accordance with NICE NG28 latest update Nov 2021
• Monotherapy. When diet and exercise alone do not provide adequate glycaemic control in patients for whom use of metformin is considered inappropriate due to intolerance.
• Add-on combination therapy. In combination with other glucose-lowering medicinal products including insulin, when these, together with diet and exercise, do not provide adequate glycaemic control
Recent studies have shown improved cardiovascular and renal outcomes for dapagliflozin
Patients will likely not achieve a glucose lowering effect if eGFR <45ml/min/1.7m3
However NICE recommends that patients may receive a licensed SGLT2 down to eGFR 15 for renoprotection.
For guidance on SGLT2 inhibitors for adults with CKD and type 2 diabetes, see chronic kidney disease in NICE's guideline on type 2 diabetes in adults. 
[TA679] Dapagliflozin for treating chronic heart failure with reduced ejection fraction
[TA775] Dapagliflozin for treating chronic kidney disease
|Empagliflozin||10mg tablets: £36.59 |
25mg tablets: £36.59
|- as monotherapy when metformin is considered inappropriate due to intolerance
- in addition to other medicinal products for the treatment of diabetes
• Age limit 85
• Can be used as per NICE TA336 (Mar-15)
• See below dosages for renal function ranges
Recent studies have shown improved cardiovascular and renal outcomes for empagliflozin
Also NICE [TA773] Empagliflozin for treating chronic heart failure with reduced ejection fraction
|Canagliflozin||100mg tablets:£39.20 (30 tablets)|
300mg tablets:£39.20 (30 tablets)
|- as monotherapy when metformin is considered inappropriate due to intolerance or contraindications
- in addition to other medicinal products for the treatment of T2 diabetes.
• No age limit by license but elderly patients more at risk of volume depletion and low eGFR
• Can be used as per NICE TA315
100mg can be initiated
In patients with eGFR >=45ml/min/1.73m2 in absence of severe albuminuria (ACR<30mg/mmol). Discontinue when eGFR falls below 45ml/min/1.73m2
For the treatment of Diabetic Kidney Disease
In patients with eGFR >=30ml/min/1.73m2 in presence of severe albuminuria (ACR>30mg/mmol)
Continue dosing until dialysis or renal transplantation
|Ertugliflozin ▼||5mg: £29.40|
|Indicated in adults aged 18 years and older with type 2 diabetes mellitus as an adjunct to diet and exercise to improve glycaemic control:
• as monotherapy in patients for whom the use of metformin is considered inappropriate due to intolerance or contraindications.
• in addition to other medicinal products for the treatment of diabetes.
NICE concluded that ertugliflozin with metformin and a gliptin could be recommended as an option for type 2 diabetes in adults when it is uncontrolled with metformin and a gliptin, but only when sulfonylureas and pioglitazone are not appropriate.
NICE suggests that SGLT-2 inhibitors provide cardiovascular protection and, although there are no data on cardiovascular outcomes for ertugliflozin yet, this may be a class effect. NICE also suggest that SGLT-2 inhibitors have a protective effect on kidney function. NICE concluded that ertugliflozin offers similar benefits to the other SGLT-2 inhibitors.
Most cost effective SGLT-2.
Start with 5mg and increase to 15mg if greater glycaemic control needed.
Initiation is not recommended in patients with an eGFR less than 60 ml/min/1.73 m2 or CrCl less than 60 ml/min
Discontinue when eGFR is persistently less than 45 ml/min/1.73 m2 or CrCl is persistently less than 45 ml/min.
No studies done in patients >75 years
Ertugliflozin with metformin and a dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitor for treating type 2 diabetes
(SGLT-2) inhibitor / Biguanide
|The following cost effective SGLT-2 inhibitor/biguanide combination products are included in the formulary as an option where patients are already taking or will be switching to the individual agents. These also have the additional benefit of reducing carbon footprint and tablet burden.|
|50mg/850mg tablets: £39.20 (60)|
50mg/1g tablets: £39.20 (60)
|5mg/850mg tablets: £36.59 (56)|
5mg/1g tablets: £36.59 (56)
|5mg/850mg tablets: 36.59 (56)|
5mg/1g tablets: 36.59 (56)
12.5mg/850mg tablets: 36.59 (56)
12.5mg/1g tablets: 36.59 (56)
|Sulphonylureas||Gliclazide||40mg tablets: £3.36|
80mg tablets: £0.87
|NICE NG28 recommends prescribing a sulfonylurea with a low acquisition cost when a sulfonylurea is indicated.|
Prescribing of Pioglitazone should be in line with MHRA/EMEA advice ( Jan-11 & Aug-11) and NICE guidance NG28
Pioglitazone should not be started in people who:
○ are at higher risk of fracture
○ have evidence of heart failure
The incidence of heart failure is increased when Pioglitazone is combined with insulin
Inform patient of risk of oedema and what to do if this happens. Closely monitor patients during treatment with pioglitazone for signs and symptoms of fluid retention. Discontinue pioglitazone if heart failure develops.
Following consideration at Somerset Prescribing Forum (Nov 2011) it was agreed that generic versions of pioglitazone may be used for all indications
|Thiazolidinediones||Pioglitazone||15mg tablets: £8.23|
30mg tablets: £10.89
45mg tablets: £11.71
|The PROACTIVE trial showed improvements in secondary outcomes.
Pioglitazone is licensed for use with insulin
Continue only if there is a reduction ≥ 0.5% points in HbA1c in 6 months
Pioglitazone might be preferable to a DPP-4 inhibitor if there is marked insulin insensitivity, or if DPP-4 inhibitor is contraindicated or not tolerated.
Secondary or tertiary centres may recommend the use of pioglitazone in patients with advanced liver fibrosis whether they have diabetes or not according to NICE NG 49 July 2016. This is an unlicensed use-please note.
Due to the established improved cardiovascular outcomes of SGLT-2s (gliflozins) we would recommend using the European (EASD) guidelines of using SGLT-2s in preference to gliptins whether or not a patient has a particular CVD risk. Generally only frail elderly patients do better on DPP-4s (gliptins) https://www.somersetccg.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/The-use-of-Gliptins-in-the-management-of-type-2-diabetes-ASB-edit.pdf
Related alert MHRA Dipeptidylpeptidase-4 inhibitors: risk of acute pancreatitis December 2014
Please note: NICE guidance does not allow for a DDP4 and a SGLT2 to be taken together - please see algorithm
NB Group 2 (LGV/PCV) drivers are required to notify DVLA if taking combination of gliptin with sulphonylurea
See below for dose adjustment in renal impairment
Please note that NICE does not support quadruple therapy, neither is this licensed by any of the oral medications
|Sitagliptin||25mg tablet: £4.83||First line
Sitagliptin is licensed for triple therapy with metformin & sulphonylurea and with insulin +/- metformin
|50mg tablet: £13.62|
|100mg tablet: £19.49|
|Alogliptin||6.25mg tablet: £26.60||As a dual therapy add-on to other agents including insulin. Please note that the licence for alogliptin does not preclude particular combination including triple therapy with metformin and a sulphonylurea (SU), and the use within this specific combination is not contraindicated. The safety and efficacy of alogliptin when used as triple therapy with metformin and a sulphonylurea have not been fully established.
Monotherapy would be considered “off license”
|12.5mg tablet: £26.60|
|25mg tablet: £26.60|
|Vildagliptin||50mg tablet: £29.10 (56)||Twice daily dosing. In dual combination with a sulphonylurea, the recommended dose of vildagliptin is reduced to 50mg once daily administered in the morning.
In this patient population, vildagliptin 100mg daily was no more effective than vildagliptin 50mg once daily
|Saxagliptin||2.5mg tablet: £31.60||Saxagliptin is is licensed for triple therapy with metformin & sulphonylurea and with insulin +/- metformin|
|5mg tablet: £31.60|
|Linagliptin||5mg tablet: £33.26||Monotherapy if metformin intolerant or contraindicated. Dual therapy with metformin. Triple therapy with SU and metformin. Can use with insulin with or without metformin.
No dose adjustment needed for renal impairment
|GLP-1 mimetic (Glucagon-like peptide-1 analogue)||Related references|
MHRA alert June 2019. GLP-1 receptor agonists: reports of diabetic ketoacidosis when concomitant insulin was rapidly reduced or discontinued
Dietary advice should be given before starting therapy with these agents.
NICE says :If triple therapy with metformin and 2 other oral drugs is not effective, not tolerated or contraindicated, consider combination therapy with metformin, a sulfonylurea and a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) mimetic for adults with type 2 diabetes who:
-have a BMI > 35 kg/m2 (adjust accordingly for people from black, Asian and other minority ethnic groups) and specific psychological or other medical problems associated with obesity
-have a BMI less than 35 kg/m2 for whom insulin therapy would have significant occupational implications or weight loss would benefit other significant obesity-related comorbidities.
Only continue GLP-1 mimetic therapy if the person with type 2 diabetes has had a beneficial metabolic response (a reduction of at least 11 mmol/mol [1.0%]
HbA1c and a weight loss of at least 3% of initial body weight in 6 months).
NB Group 2 (LGV/PCV) drivers are required to notify DVLA if taking combination of exenatide with sulphonylurea.
Somerset Prescribing Forum approved the use of lixisenatide and exenatide as adjunctive therapy to basal insulin (with or without metformin and/or pioglitazone in adults with Type 2 diabetes) i.e. within the respective licensed indications. Patients are expected to show 0.5% (6mmol/mol) reduction in HbA1c after 6 months to justify continuation.
Do not add GLP-1 treatment to basal insulin plus SU regimen as high risk of hypoglycaemia
|Due to manufacturing issues, IMPORTANT-the makers of Ozempic (semaglutide) and Trulicity (dulaglutide) have directed that no no new patients to be initiated on their medications. The only other weekly GLP-1 available at present is exenatide (see below)|
Injections are once-weekly dosing. One pen lasts 4 weeks
|250 mcg, 4-dose prefilled pen, 1=£73.25 |
500 mcg, 4-dose prefilled pen, 1=£73.25
1mg, 4-dose prefilled pen, 1=£73.25
3mg tablets (30) £78.48
7mg tablets (30) £78.48
14mg tablets (30) £78.48
|Initially 250 mcg by sc inj once weekly increasing after 4 weeks to 500 microgram once weekly. After ≥4 weeks increase to max 1mg once weekly if required. Combination therapy, consider lower dose of sulfonylurea/insulin.
PLEASE NOTE- one syringe will last 4 weeks unlike all the other weekly GLP-1 which only last a week.
Suggest on commencement that the 250mcg is issued as acute with a note to titrate up after 4 weeks
Oral semaglutide is very poorly absorbed and must be taken exactly as the manufacturers stipulate - must be swallowed whole on an empty stomach with a sip of water (up to half a glass of about 120mls) . No food or other medications should be taken for 30 minutes.
Initially 3mg daily increasing after one month to 7mg once daily. After a further month increase to max 14mg once daily if required. Combination therapy, consider lower dose of sulfonylurea/insulin.
|0.75mg, 1.5mg, 3mg and 4.5mg (0.5ml pre-filled pen): |
£73.25 (4 doses)
|10 mcg, 14-dose pre-filled pen, 1=£31.67|
20 mcg, 14-dose pre-filled pen, 2=£57.93
Treatment initiation pack (1 x 10 mcg and 1 x 20 mcg pre-filled pen), 1=£57.93
|5mcg pre-filled pen: £68.24 (60 doses) |
10mcg pre-filled pen: £68.24 (60 doses)
2mg vial : £73.36 (4)
|6mg/ml pre-filled pen: |
£78.48 (2 x 3ml),
£117.72 (3 x 3ml)
Dose adjustments for empagliflozin in renal impairment