Pharmacy Diabetes

A-1.2 Alpha-glucosidase Inhibitors Acarbose-overview-formulations

Name of Medicine

Acarbose is available in 50mg or 100mg tablets.

Key Practice Points
Therapeutic Indications:

Treatment of type 2 diabetes where physical activity and dietary management has not resulted in adequate glycaemic targets.

For the most up to date PBS therapeutic indications for acarbose, please see


  • The average adult dose of acarbose is 100mg three times a day just before each meal. However occasionally there is a need to increase this to 200mg three times a day.
  • To prevent gastrointestinal side effects (boating, flatulence, nausea)
    • Start at 50mg once a day for one week.
    • Increase to 50mg twice a day for the second week.
    • Then increase to 50mg three times a day after the third week.
    • Further increases in the dose may occur depending on glucose levels 6-8 weeks later.

A diet lower in complex carbohydrates and cane sugar (sucrose) may also help reduce the side effect prolife.


No modification in the dose is necessary in the elderly.


Acarbose may affect digoxin availability.

Adverse Effects:

Gastrointestinal side effects including diarrhoea, flatulence, nausea, and loose stools. A dose reduction or a change in the diet often helps reduce these side effects.

  • Hypersensitivity to acarbose or any active ingredient
  • Individuals under the age of 18 years
  • Severe renal impairment: Acarbose is contraindicated in individuals with severe renal impairment (creatinine clearance < 25 mL/min). (annual cycle of care-renal check, Diabetes Medscheck referral back to GP for screening)
  • Any form of malabsorption syndrome including Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, intestinal obstruction or ileus, and intestinal ulcers.
Pharmacokinetic Properties - Summary
  • Only an exceedingly small amount of acarbose is absorbed (1-2%) by the gastrointestinal tract.
  • The small amount of acarbose that is absorbed is excreted unchanged by the kidneys.
More Information

For more detailed information on this product please consult the product information.