Avoiding Drug-Induced Hypoglycemia in the Older Adult

Mary Ann E. Zagaria, PharmD, MS, BCGP


US Pharmacist. 2019;44(10):4-10. 

In This Article

Mechanisms of Drug-induced Glucose and Insulin Imbalance

While an organic imbalance between plasma glucose and insulin concentration can result in hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia, drugs may also induce hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia via mechanisms as varied as:[4]

  • Alterations of insulin secretion and sensitivity

  • Changes in gluconeogenesis, and

  • Direct cytotoxic effects on pancreatic β cells

When the etiology of hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia is DI, the condition can progress to consequential manifestations, including diabetes mellitus, severe hypoglycemia, coma, and death. When healthcare practitioners are aware of this potential medication-related problem and provide close monitoring and judicious use of the suspected drugs, adverse events such as these can be prevented and/or minimized.[4]