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Diabetes Health Center

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Thiazolidinediones for Type 2 Diabetes


Generic Name Brand Name
pioglitazone Actos
rosiglitazone Avandia

Thiazolidinediones are also available in combination with other medicines. Pioglitazone is combined with the biguanide medicine metformin (Actoplus Met) and the sulfonylurea medicine glimepiride (Duetact).

Rosiglitazone is combined with metformin (Avandamet) and the sulfonylurea medicine glimepiride (Avandaryl).

Rosiglitazone and combination medicine using rosiglitazone are available only for people specially qualified to take them. These medicines are available only through certified pharmacies.

How It Works

These medicines lower insulin resistance in muscle and fat. They also reduce glucose produced by the liver.

Why It Is Used

Thiazolidinediones are usually used when other medicines have failed to lower blood sugar levels into a target range.

These medicines sometimes lower triglycerides and raise HDL cholesterol.

How Well It Works

Type 2 diabetes is a disease that can get worse over time, so medicines may need to change.

Diabetes medicines work best for people who are being active and eating healthy foods. Studies have suggested that thiazolidinediones lower hemoglobin A1c by 0.5% to 1.4%.1

Side Effects

All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.

Here are some important things to think about:

  • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
  • Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
  • If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

Call911or other emergency services right away if you have:

Call your doctor immediately if you have:

Common side effects of this medicine include:

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Women who have stopped menstruating before they start taking these medicines may begin menstruating again and may become pregnant. Also, women who take oral contraceptives to prevent pregnancy may become pregnant.

Women who take rosiglitazone (Avandia) or pioglitazone (Actos) may increase their risk for upper arm or foot fractures, according to a warning from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that taking pioglitazone (Actos) may raise the chance of getting bladder cancer.

Taking medicine

Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.

There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

Advice for women

If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.


Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.


  1. Inzucchi SE, et al. (2012). Management of hyperglycemia in type 2 diabetes: A patient-centered approach. Diabetes Care, 35(6): 1364-1379.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerDavid C.W. Lau, MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology

Current as ofJune 4, 2014

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 04, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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