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Home / Drugs / Starting with A / Acarbose

An inhibitor of alpha glucosidase that retards the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates in the small intestine and hence reduces the increase in blood-glucose concentrations after a carbohydrate load. It is given orally to non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus patients where diet modification or oral hypoglycemic agents do not control their condition. (From Martindale The Extra Pharmacopoeia, 31st ed)
CategoriesHypoglycemic Agents
Enzyme Inhibitors
ManufacturersImpax laboratories inc
Roxane laboratories inc
Watson laboratories inc
Bayer healthcare pharmaceuticals inc
PackagersArrow Pharm Malta Ltd.
A-S Medication Solutions LLC
Bayer Healthcare
Cobalt Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Global Pharmaceuticals
Impax Laboratories Inc.
Kaiser Foundation Hospital
Murfreesboro Pharmaceutical Nursing Supply
PD-Rx Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Physicians Total Care Inc.
Preferred Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Roxane Labs


For treatment and management of diabetes type II (used in combination therapy as a second or third line agent)


Used to reduce blood gluose in patients with type 2 diabetes. Acarbose is a complex oligosaccharide that delays the digestion of ingested carbohydrates, thereby resulting in a smaller rise in blood glucose concentration following meals. Acarbose binds to and inhibits alpha amylase and alpha-gluocside hydrolases. In diabetic patients, this enzyme inhibition results in a delayed glucose absorption and a lowering of postprandial hyperglycemia.

mechanism of action

Acarbose reversibly bind to pancreatic alpha-amylase and membrane-bound intestinal alpha-glucoside hydrolases. These enzymes inhibit hydrolysis of complex starches to oligosaccharides in the lumen of the small intestine and hydrolysis of oligosaccharides, trisaccharides, and disaccharides to glucose and other monosaccharides in the brush border of the small intestine.


Extremely low bioavailability.

half life

2 hours

route of elimination

The fraction of acarbose that is absorbed as intact drug is almost completely excreted by the kidneys.

drug interactions

Digoxin: Acarbose may decrease the serum levels of digoin. It is thought that acarbose reduces digoin absorption. Monitor for changes in digoxin serum levels and therapeutic and adverse effects if acarbose is initiated, discontinued or dose changed.

Somatropin recombinant: Somatropin may antagonize the hypoglycemic effect of acarbose. Monitor for changes in fasting and postprandial blood sugars.