9 Ways to Save Money on Diabetes Medications – Diabetes Doctor

9 Ways to Save Money on Diabetes Medications

With the astronomical and rising cost of prescription medications, the most common complaint I get from both patients and providers are “I can’t afford my medications!” This often creates a huge barrier for you to get the right medications to keep your sugars under control. Additionally, doctors are limited on what they can recommend based on formularies and affordability, instead of what is the best therapy for a patient. 

Here are my 9 BEST tips to help you with the affordability of your diabetes medications.


Most of us know that generic medication is less expensive than brand name medications. This means the original drug company’s’ patent has expired and the medication is able to be made by multiple manufacturers - which drives the price down for you. The problem is, the diabetes medications that are available as a generic are very few (listed below):

  • Metformin
  • Glipizide, Glimepiride, Glyburide
  • Pioglitazone (Actos®)
  • Acarbose
  • Alogliptin (Nesina®) – this drug works in the same way as Januvia®, Onglyza®, & Tradjenta® which only come as Brand Name, so this may be a less expensive alternative to those therapies

This is why when you ask your pharmacist or doctor, “Isn’t there a cheaper drug?” The answer usually is no.

If you are paying more than $15/month for Metformin, Pioglitazone, Glipizide, Glimepiride, or Glyburide medications... you shouldn’t be.  Metformin (depending on the formulation) & Glipizide/Glimepiride/Glyburide medications should be available on any major pharmacy $4 generic drug list without insurance.  Walmart also offers the pioglitazone for only $9/month. Here is a link to find participating stores and prices:



There generally isn’t much difference in pricing between strengths of pills.  As examples, cash pricing of Invokana 100 mg is about the same as Invokana 300 mg tablet per tablet and Januvia 50 mg is about the same as Januvia 100 mg tablet per tablet. So (depending on your needs) it may make the most sense talking with your provider about prescribing the highest dose and then cutting the pills in half every day. This can get you the most bang for your buck! I find value in this option for patients who pay cash, have a high deductible, or who use Medicare Part D.


GoodRx offers coupons and discounts on hundreds of prescription drugs – but it's really only helpful for discounts on generic medications.  The discount is not significant enough to make brand name medications affordable and they usually remain hundreds of dollars per month.  Therefore, for brand name medications – you are much better off using a copay card directly from the manufacturer (see next tip below). Also, you cannot use both a GoodRx coupon and your insurance – again, making this not very useful.

The GoodRx website can be useful in getting cash pricing of medications when comparing between local pharmacies to try to find the most competitive price.


Pay attention if you have commercial insurance – especially a high deductible!! You cannot use these if you have any government insurance (like Medicare, Medicaid, or Military).  In order to use copay cards, the prescription must usually run through your insurance first - meaning the medication must be on formulary. 

I have compiled below categories of brand name diabetes medications, based on how they work. The medications within the table are generally interchangeable so it may make sense to switch to an alternative medication within the same class if it saves you money.

Click Drug Name for Website Link to Open in a Separate Window

SGLT2 inhibitors (the pills that cause you to urinate out extra sugar)

GLP1 receptor agonists (non-insulin injections that help your body use its own insulin better and slows how food moves through your stomach)

DPP4 inhibitors (pills that can help lower sugars)

  • Januvia – up to $150 off/month
  • Onglyza – up to $150 off/month
  • Tradjenta – up to $150 off/month
  • Nesina – up to $100 off/month (ALSO GENERIC!!)

Long Acting Insulin

Mealtime Short Acting Insulin

  • Humalog – up to $100 off/month
  • Novolog – up to $100 off/month
  • Apidra – up to $100 off/month
  • Fiasp – up to $100 off/month
  • Admelog - $99/vial and $149/5 pen pack


Unlike copay cards, anyone can use these - whether you have Medicare, Medicaid, Military, or NO insurance at all! These are usually 30 day offers to try the medication for free.

Farxiga and Bydureon both have 30-day free trial offers here: www.azmedcoupons.com (*make sure you click the Free trial and not the Savings card!)

These medications have 30-day free trial vouchers available that may be available from your doctor:

  • Invokana
  • Farxiga
  • Jardiance (14-day free-trial only)
  • Humalog
  • Trulicity
  • Bydureon

 This isn’t a long-term solution, but certainly buys you time to try medication and know if it’s going to work before paying for it... or bridge certain gaps of time when you maybe can't afford the copay.


If you are struggling financially with paying for your medications you may qualify for FREE medication from the drug company.  The income requirements and out-of-pocket spend vary based on the company.  You will need to provide documentation for your income for most of them (except Sanofi - maker of Lantus, Toujeo, and Apidra insulins).  If you are a Medicare patient, some of these programs will require that you have tried to apply for Medicare Low Income Subsidy. (i.e. “Extra Help) – see below for guidance on this. Keep in mind, these must be renewed annually.

Drug Company

(medications covered)



Out-of-pocket spend for calendar year


(Farxiga, Bydureon, Onglyza)



3% of annual income


(Trulicity, BasaGlar, Humalog, Tradjenta)





(Victoza, Ozempic, Tresiba, Levemir, Novolog)















(Lantus, Toujeo, Admelog)



4% of annual income


If you have Medicare, you may be able to get extra help to pay for the monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and co-payments related to the Medicare Prescription Drug program. This extends to ALL of your medications (not just diabetes) and does not have to be renewed each year like the patient assistance programs do. I would only attempt to do this online. Calling can take hours. If you aren’t computer savvy – find someone to help you (even someone at your doctor’s office)!

Go here to apply: https://secure.ssa.gov/i1020/start and click “Apply Now” at the bottom of the page.  You will need to have your income and asset information handy.  It takes only about 5 minutes to complete.


Insurance formularies will have different tiers of medications. The lower the tier a brand name medication is on, generally the less it will cost for you.  Calling your insurance company or referring to their formulary book that they usually mail you at the beginning of each calendar year is easiest. Personally, I also refer to this website tool:



Some doctors’ offices are still given samples of medications from the drug company reps. Not all offices have them, but all you have to do is ask if they have any available!  It is worth asking before stopping your medication due to financial hardship.

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