Meds and you

Updated 11 February 2013


Rosiglitazone is an oral blood glucose-lowering drug. It is prescribed in the treatment and management of type-2 diabetes.


Rosiglitazone is the active ingredient of Avandia.

General information

Rosiglitazone is an oral blood glucose-lowering drug. It is prescribed in the treatment and management of type-2 diabetes that is not adequately controlled by diet and exercise.

Type-2 diabetes makes up 90 per cent or more of all cases of diabetes.

Treatment with oral anti-diabetic drugs should only be started once all lifestyle and dietary measures have been tried for at least three months and have not controlled blood-glucose adequately. Once treatment with this medication is started, diet and exercise should, however, not be stopped.

Rosiglitazone can be used on its own - treatment is often started with one drug only - or in combination with other oral blood glucose-lowering drugs.

This drug is faster acting than most other oral antidiabetic drugs, but may take between six and eight weeks to reach full effect.

For rosiglitazone to remain effective it needs to be taken regularly. It is best taken 30 minutes before a meal to allow the insulin released as a result of this drug, to cope with food. If a meal is likely to be missed, the medication should not be taken.

Low blood sugar levels are a potential risk with this and other similar drugs. The dosage should be titrated under supervision of your doctor until the right dose has been found. It is therefore recommended to start treatment with low doses.

Rosiglitazone tends to encourage weight gain, and weight control is of great importance.

This medication is generally used when the body is still making some insulin

How does it work?

Rosiglitazone acts by stimulating the release of insulin from the pancreas, thereby promoting sugar uptake in the body. This ultimately lowers the level of sugar in the blood.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: Schedule 3

Available as: Tablets

What does it do? Lowers blood sugar

Overdose risk: High

Dependence risk : Low

Available as a generic? No

Available on prescription only? Yes

User information

Onset of effect: Within 60 minutes.

Duration of action: Up to 24 hours.

Dietary advice: Take this medication 30 minutes before a meal.

Stopping: Consult your doctor before first: diabetes may worsen with premature discontinuation.

Prolonged use: Prolonged use increases the risk for adverse effects. Regular liver function tests are advised.

Special precautions

Alert your doctor before using this drug if:

  • You have liver or kidney disease
  • You are anaemic
  • You have congestive heart failure
  • You are taking other medication

Pregnancy: Avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect your baby. Consult your doctor before using this drug, or if you are planning to fall pregnant.

Breastfeeding: Avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect your baby. Consult your doctor before use.

Porphyria: Avoid. This medication may cause serious adverse effects. Consult your doctor before use.

Infants and children: This medication is not intended for use in children.

Elderly: Caution is advised in the elderly as side effects may be more common.

Driving and hazardous work: Caution is advised as use may lead to dizziness or light-headedness. Avoid such activities until you know how it affects you.

Alcohol: No special precautions need be taken.

Possible side effects

Side effect


Consult your doctor



Only if severe

In all cases




Weight gain















Swelling of ankles










Drug interactions


Risk of rosiglitazone toxicity


Reduced effect of rosiglitazone

Disease interactions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if you have liver or kidney disease or congestive heart failure

Overdose action

An overdose of this medication can be serious. Seek immediate emergency medical attention.

Recommended dosage

Adults: 4-8 mg/day

This material is not intended to substitute medical advice, but is for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment and recommendations.


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