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Generic Name: Acarbose (ay-KAR-bose)
Brand Name: Precose

Acarbose is used for:

Treating type 2 diabetes in adults whose diabetes cannot be managed with diet alone. Acarbose may be used alone, in combination with other oral diabetes medicines, or with insulin.

Acarbose is a glucosidase inhibitor. It works by slowing down the enzyme that turns carbohydrates into glucose; this decreases blood sugar levels following a meal.

Do NOT use Acarbose if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in Acarbose
  • you have blockage of the stomach or intestine or are at risk for these problems
  • you have long-term (chronic) bowel inflammation, colon ulcers, or stomach or intestine problems that interfere with digestion or nutrient absorption
  • you have cirrhosis of the liver or unexplained abnormal liver function tests
  • you have diabetic ketoacidosis (high ketone levels) or severe kidney problems

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

Before using Acarbose :

Some medical conditions may interact with Acarbose . Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you have stomach or intestinal problems, liver problems, or kidney problems

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with Acarbose . Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Anticoagulants (eg, warfarin) because side effects, including risk of bleeding, may be increased by Acarbose
  • Calcium channel blockers (eg, verapamil), corticosteroids (eg, prednisone), diuretics (eg, hydrochlorothiazide), estrogen, isoniazid, nicotinic acid, oral contraceptives (birth control pills), phenothiazines (eg, chlorpromazine), phenytoin, sympathomimetics (eg, pseudoephedrine), or thyroid hormone because the effectiveness of Acarbose may be increased or decreased
  • Insulin or sulfonylureas (eg, glyburide) because side effects may be increased by Acarbose
  • Digoxin because its effectiveness may be decreased by Acarbose

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if Acarbose may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use Acarbose :

Use Acarbose as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • Take Acarbose with food at the beginning of a meal.
  • If you are also taking charcoal or digestive enzyme preparations with Acarbose , space them at least 2 to 4 hours apart for maximum effectiveness.
  • Carefully follow the diet and exercise program given to you by your health care provider.
  • Temporary insulin therapy may be necessary during stressful periods (such as fever, trauma, infection, or surgery).
  • If you miss a dose of Acarbose , skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take 2 doses at once.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use Acarbose .

Important safety information:

  • Notify your dentist or doctor that you are taking Acarbose before you have any dental work or surgery.
  • Carefully follow the regular testing of urine or blood glucose schedules given to you by your health care provider.
  • Acarbose , used with other diabetes medicines, may cause a loss of blood sugar control. Your health care provider may need to change the amount of medicine that you are taking. Because Acarbose prevents the breakdown of table (cane) sugar, be sure to use glucose (dextrose), not sugar or fruits, to treat symptoms of low blood sugar (tiredness, excessive hunger and sweating, numbness in arms or legs). Contact your health care provider if these symptoms occur.
  • LAB TESTS, including blood counts, blood glucose, glycosylated hemoglobin levels, and liver function tests may be performed to monitor your progress and to check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
  • Acarbose is not recommended for use in CHILDREN. Safety and effectiveness have not been confirmed.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: If you become pregnant while taking Acarbose , discuss with your doctor the benefits and risks of using Acarbose during pregnancy. It is unknown if Acarbose is excreted in breast milk. Do not breast feed while taking Acarbose .

Possible side effects of Acarbose :

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Bloating; diarrhea; gas; nausea; stomach pain; vomiting.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); severe stomach pain; yellowing of skin or eyes.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions or need medical advice about side effects, contact your doctor or health care provider. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 (1-800-332-1088) or at

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center (, or emergency room immediately. Symptoms may include diarrhea; gas; stomach pain or discomfort.

Proper storage of Acarbose :

Store Acarbose below 77 degrees F (25 degrees C) in a tightly sealed container. Store away from heat, moisture, and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep Acarbose out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about Acarbose , please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Acarbose is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.

This information is summary only. It does not contain all information about Acarbose . If you have questions about the medicine you are taking or would like more information, check with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.

Issue Date: November 1, 2006
Database Edition
Copyright © 2006 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

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