Glucotrol XL is a brand-name prescription medication. It’s FDA-approved for use with diet and exercise to improve blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes.

With type 2 diabetes, you have high blood sugar levels. This is because your body has trouble using and producing insulin. Insulin is a hormone that usually helps keep your blood sugar at a healthy level.

Note: Glucotrol XL is not approved to treat type 1 diabetes or diabetic ketoacidosis, a complication of diabetes. For more details about the uses of Glucotrol XL, see the “Glucotrol XL uses” section below.

Drug details

Glucotrol XL contains the active drug glipizide. It belongs to a class of diabetes drugs called sulfonylureas.

Glucotrol XL comes as an oral extended-release tablet. The tablet slowly releases the active drug as it passes through your digestive system.

Glucotrol XL comes in three strengths:

  • 2.5 milligrams (mg)
  • 5 mg
  • 10 mg

Effectiveness

For information about the effectiveness of Glucotrol XL, see the “Glucotrol XL uses” section below.

Glucotrol XL is a brand-name drug that contains the active drug glipizide extended release. This active drug is also available as a generic medication. A generic-name drug is an exact copy of the active drug in a brand-name medication.

The generic is considered as safe and effective as the original drug. Generics also tend to cost less than brand-name drugs.

If you’re interested in using the generic form of Glucotrol XL, talk with your doctor. They can tell you if it comes in forms and strengths that can be used for your condition.

Glucotrol XL can cause mild or serious side effects (also called adverse effects). The following lists contain some of the key side effects that may occur while taking Glucotrol XL. These lists do not include all possible side effects.

For more information about the possible side effects of Glucotrol XL, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can give you tips on how to manage any side effects that may be concerning or bothersome.

Note: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tracks side effects of drugs it has approved. If you would like to notify the FDA about a side effect you’ve had with Glucotrol XL, you can do so through MedWatch.

Mild side effects

Mild side effects* of Glucotrol XL can include:

* This is a partial list of mild side effects from Glucotrol XL. To learn about other mild side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist, or view Glucotrol XL’s prescribing information.

Serious side effects

Serious side effects from Glucotrol XL aren’t common, but they can occur. Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 or your local emergency number if your symptoms feel life threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency.

Serious side effects and their symptoms can include:

  • Severe hypoglycemia (very low blood sugar). Symptoms can include:
    • dizziness
    • sweating
    • headache
    • shaking
    • lack of coordination
    • slurred speech
  • Blood cell problems, such as hemolytic anemia (breakdown of red blood cells causing low red blood cell count), leukopenia (low white blood cell count), and thrombocytopenia (low platelet count). Symptoms vary depending on the blood cells affected. They can include:
    • fatigue, dark urine, fever, and abdominal pain with hemolytic anemia
    • bruising or bleeding easily with thrombocytopenia
    • fever or infection with leukopenia
  • Liver problems. Symptoms can include:
    • abdominal pain
    • itchy skin
    • dark urine
  • Severe allergic reaction.
ALLERGIC REACTION

As with most drugs, some people can have an allergic reaction after taking Glucotrol XL. This was a rare side effect in clinical trials of the drug.

Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:

A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include:

  • swelling under your skin, typically in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet
  • swelling of your tongue, mouth, or throat
  • trouble breathing

Call your doctor right away if you have an allergic reaction to Glucotrol XL, as the reaction could become severe. Call 911 or your local emergency number if your symptoms feel life threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency.

The Glucotrol XL dosage your doctor prescribes will depend on several factors. These include:

  • your age
  • other medical conditions you may have
  • other medications you take

Typically, your doctor will start your treatment with a low dosage. Then they’ll adjust it over time to reach the amount that’s right for you. Your doctor will ultimately prescribe the smallest dosage that provides the desired effect.

The following information describes dosages that are commonly used or recommended. However, be sure to take the dosage your doctor prescribes for you. Your doctor will determine the best dosage to fit your needs.

Drug forms

Glucotrol XL comes as an oral extended-release tablet. The tablet slowly releases the active drug as it passes through your digestive system.

Drug strengths: 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg

Glucotrol XL comes in three strengths:

  • 2.5 milligrams (mg)
  • 5 mg
  • 10 mg

Dosage for type 2 diabetes

The usual recommended starting dosage for Glucotrol XL is 5 mg once per day. You’ll take your dose with breakfast or your first main meal of the day.

Your doctor may prescribe a lower starting dosage if you’re ages 65 years or older. They may also prescribe a lower starting dosage if you have a liver problem.

Your doctor may adjust your dosage depending on how well your blood sugar levels are managed. The maximum recommended dosage is 20 mg once per day.

What if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible. However, if it’s nearly time for your next dose, just skip the missed dose and take your next dose as scheduled.

Do not take two doses together to make up for a missed dose. And do not take extra doses to make up for missed doses. Doing so can cause severe hypoglycemia (very low blood sugar).

To help make sure that you don’t miss a dose, try using a medication reminder. This can include setting an alarm or using a timer. You could also download a reminder app on your phone.

Will I need to take this drug long term?

Glucotrol XL is meant to be taken as a long-term treatment. If you and your doctor determine this drug is safe and effective for you, you’ll likely take it long term.

Glucotrol XL belongs to a class of diabetes drugs called sulfonylureas.

Other drugs are available that can treat type 2 diabetes. Some may be a better fit for you than others. If you’re interested in finding an alternative to Glucotrol XL, talk with your doctor. They can tell you about other medications that may work well for you.

Alternatives for type 2 diabetes

Examples of other drugs that may be prescribed to help manage blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes include:

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about Glucotrol XL.

How does Glucotrol XL compare with Glucophage (metformin)?

Glucotrol XL and Glucophage are brand-name medications approved to improve blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. Glucotrol XL contains the active drug glipizide. Glucophage contains the active drug metformin. Glucophage isn’t currently available for use. However, generic versions of its active drug are available.

Doctors often prescribe Glucotrol XL and metformin together. They work in different ways to lower blood sugar levels. Both drugs come as oral tablets.

These drugs have some similar and some different side effects. For example, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is one of the more common side effects of Glucotrol XL. However, metformin doesn’t usually cause hypoglycemia when taken on its own. Both drugs can cause digestive side effects, such as nausea, diarrhea, and gas. However, these are more common with metformin than with Glucotrol XL.

If you’d like to learn more about how these medications compare, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Can older people take Glucotrol XL?

Yes, older people can take Glucotrol XL. However, people ages 65 years and older have a higher risk of hypoglycemia with this medication.

If you’re in this age group, your doctor will likely prescribe a lower starting dosage of Glucotrol XL than usual.

Does Glucotrol XL cause weight gain?

It’s possible for Glucotrol XL to cause weight gain. This side effect wasn’t reported in clinical trials of Glucotrol XL. However, Glucotrol XL belongs to a class of drugs called sulfonylureas. And weight gain has been reported with other drugs in this class.

Sulfonylureas may cause weight gain because they stimulate the release of insulin in your body. Insulin helps your body move sugar out of your bloodstream and into your cells. Some of this sugar gets stored as fat, which can lead to weight gain over time.

If you’re concerned about weight gain with Glucotrol XL, talk with your doctor. They can give you advice on diet and exercise to help you manage your weight.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves prescription drugs such as Glucotrol XL to treat certain conditions.

Glucotrol XL for type 2 diabetes

Glucotrol XL is FDA-approved for use with diet and exercise to improve blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes.

Note: Glucotrol XL is not approved to treat type 1 diabetes or diabetic ketoacidosis, a complication of diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes explained

With type 2 diabetes, your blood sugar levels are too high. Usually, insulin (a hormone made by your pancreas) keeps your blood sugar at a healthy level. It does this by moving sugar from your bloodstream into your cells so they can use it for fuel.

With type 2 diabetes, cells in your body become resistant to the effects of insulin. This means they don’t remove sugar from your blood effectively. If the condition gets worse, your pancreas may also produce less insulin. It may eventually stop making insulin altogether. These problems with insulin use and production can lead to high blood sugar levels.

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes can include:

Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage the cells in your body. This can lead to complications of diabetes, which can include:

Type 2 diabetes management

The aim of type 2 diabetes management is to keep blood sugar levels in a healthy range and help prevent long-term complications. To achieve this, your doctor will recommend you follow a regular diet and exercise plan. However, if this plan does not improve your blood sugar levels enough, your doctor may prescribe a diabetes medication, such as Glucotrol XL.

Glucotrol XL helps improve your blood sugar levels by stimulating your pancreas to release insulin. More insulin means more sugar will be moved from your bloodstream and into your cells. This helps lower your blood sugar.

You can learn more about type 2 diabetes and its management in our diabetes hub.

Effectiveness for type 2 diabetes

Glucotrol XL is effective for improving blood sugar levels in most people with type 2 diabetes. However, if your pancreas no longer makes insulin, the drug won’t treat your condition effectively.

Although it can be effective for lowering blood sugar levels, Glucotrol XL isn’t usually prescribed as the first treatment for type 2 diabetes. This is because it can sometimes cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Most other type 2 diabetes medications don’t cause this side effect.

The American Diabetes Association guidelines recommend metformin (Glucophage, Glumetza, Riomet) as the first treatment for type 2 diabetes in most people. However, if metformin does not improve your blood sugar levels enough, your doctor may add another diabetes drug to your treatment. These include sulfonylureas, such as Glucotrol XL.

Glucotrol XL and children

Glucotrol XL isn’t FDA-approved for use in children with type 2 diabetes. It’s unknown if the drug is safe or effective for this age group.

Your doctor may prescribe Glucotrol XL with other diabetes drugs to help manage your blood sugar levels.

For example, Glucotrol XL is commonly prescribed with metformin (Glucophage, Glumetza, Riomet). This is if metformin hasn’t improved your blood sugar levels enough.

Examples of other diabetes drugs that your doctor may prescribe with Glucotrol XL include:

As with all medications, the cost of Glucotrol XL can vary. To find current prices for Glucotrol XL tablets in your area, check out GoodRx.com.


The cost you find on GoodRx.com is what you may pay without insurance. The actual price you’ll pay depends on your insurance plan, your location, and the pharmacy you use.

Keep in mind that you may be able to get a 90-day supply of Glucotrol XL. If approved by your insurance company, getting a 90-day supply of the drug could reduce your number of trips to the pharmacy and help lower the cost. If you’re interested in this option, check with your doctor, pharmacist, or insurance company.

Before approving coverage for Glucotrol XL, your insurance company may require you to get prior authorization. This means that your doctor and insurance company will need to communicate about your prescription before the insurance company will cover the drug. The insurance company will review the prior authorization request and decide if the drug will be covered.

If you’re not sure you’ll need prior authorization for Glucotrol XL, contact your insurance company.

Financial and insurance assistance

If you need financial support to pay for Glucotrol XL, or if you need help understanding your insurance coverage, help is available.

A patient assistance program is available for Glucotrol XL. For more information and to find out if you’re eligible for support, call 866-706-2400 or visit the program website.

To learn more about saving money on prescriptions, check out this article.

Mail-order pharmacies

Glucotrol XL may be available through a mail-order pharmacy. Using this service may help lower the drug’s cost and allow you to get your medication without leaving home.

If recommended by your doctor, you may be able to receive a 90-day supply of Glucotrol XL, so there’s less concern about running out of the medication. If you’re interested in this option, check with your doctor, pharmacist, or insurance company. Some Medicare plans may help cover the cost of mail-order medications.

If you don’t have insurance, you can ask your doctor or pharmacist about online pharmacy options.

Generic version

Glucotrol XL is available in a generic form called glipizide extended release (ER). A generic drug is an exact copy of the active drug in a brand-name medication. The generic is considered as safe and effective as the original drug. And generics tend to cost less than brand-name drugs. To find out how the cost of glipizide ER compares to the cost of Glucotrol XL, visit GoodRx.com.

If your doctor has prescribed Glucotrol XL and you’re interested in using glipizide ER instead, talk with your doctor. They may have a preference for one version or the other. You’ll also need to check your insurance plan, as it may only cover one or the other.

Glucotrol XL is prescribed with diet and exercise to help improve blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

How your body usually manages blood sugar

When you eat and drink, sugar is absorbed into your bloodstream. As the level of sugar in your blood rises, your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin. Insulin helps the cells throughout your body absorb sugar from your blood. The cells use this sugar as fuel. Insulin also helps your liver store excess sugar for future use.

What happens with type 2 diabetes

With type 2 diabetes, the cells in your body become resistant to the effects of insulin. This means they don’t remove sugar from your blood effectively. Over time, your pancreas may also produce less insulin. These problems with insulin use and production can lead to high blood sugar levels.

Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage cells in your body. These include cells in your blood vessels, nerves, eyes, heart, and kidneys. This can lead to complications of diabetes, such as:

What Glucotrol XL does

Glucotrol XL works by stimulating your pancreas to release more insulin. This helps your body move more sugar from your bloodstream into your cells, which lowers your blood sugar levels.

Note: If your pancreas no longer makes insulin, Glucotrol XL won’t lower your blood sugar level effectively. Talk with your doctor about other medications for your condition.

How long does Glucotrol XL take to work?

Glucotrol XL starts working to lower your blood sugar 2 to 3 hours after you take your first dose. Each dose works for a 24-hour period.

Glucotrol XL can interact with several other medications. Different interactions can cause different effects. For instance, some interactions can interfere with how well a drug works. Other interactions can increase side effects or make them more severe.

Glucotrol XL and other medications

Below is a list of medications that can interact with Glucotrol XL. This list does not contain all drugs that may interact with Glucotrol XL.

Before taking Glucotrol XL, talk with your doctor and pharmacist. Tell them about all prescription, over-the-counter, and other drugs you take. Also tell them about any vitamins, herbs, and supplements you use. Sharing this information can help you avoid potential interactions.

If you have questions about drug interactions that may affect you, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Taking certain drugs with Glucotrol XL may increase the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Examples of these drugs include:

Taking certain drugs with Glucotrol XL can make the warning symptoms of hypoglycemia less noticeable. Examples of these drugs include:

Certain drugs may increase your blood sugar level. Taking these drugs with Glucotrol XL could make Glucotrol XL less effective at managing your blood sugar levels. Examples of these drugs include:

Taking colesevelam (Welchol) with Glucotrol XL can reduce the absorption of Glucotrol XL in your body. This could make Glucotrol XL less effective. If you take both these medications, your doctor will recommend taking Glucotrol XL at least 4 hours before colesevelam.

Glucotrol XL and herbs and supplements

There aren’t any herbs or supplements that have been specifically reported to interact with Glucotrol XL. However, you should still check with your doctor or pharmacist before using any of these products while taking Glucotrol XL.

Glucotrol XL and foods

There aren’t any foods that have been specifically reported to interact with Glucotrol XL. If you have any questions about eating certain foods with Glucotrol XL, talk with your doctor.

Drinking alcohol with Glucotrol XL may increase your risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

It may also increase the risk of certain other side effects of Glucotrol XL. These include dizziness and nausea. (For additional information about Glucotrol XL side effects, see the “Glucotrol XL side effects” section above.)

If you drink alcohol, talk with your doctor about how much, if any, is safe to consume with Glucotrol XL.

You should take Glucotrol XL according to the instructions your doctor gives you.

Glucotrol XL comes as an extended-release tablet that you swallow whole. The tablet slowly releases the active drug as it passes through your digestive system.

It’s important to note that the tablet shell doesn’t dissolve in your digestive system. So you may notice it in your stool. This is normal. The shell is empty, and your body would have absorbed the medication.

When to take

You’ll usually take Glucotrol XL once per day, with breakfast or your first main meal of the day.

Taking the medication around the same time of day helps keep a steady level of the drug in your body. This helps Glucotrol XL work effectively.

To help make sure that you don’t miss a dose, try using a medication reminder. This can include setting an alarm or using a timer. You could also download a reminder app on your phone.

Accessible labels and containers

If your prescription label is hard to read, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. Some pharmacies offer labels that have large print, braille, or a code you scan with a smartphone to convert text to speech. If your local pharmacy doesn’t have these options, your doctor or pharmacist may be able to direct you to one that does.

If you have trouble opening medication bottles, ask your pharmacist if they can put Glucotrol XL in an easy-open container. They also may be able to recommend tools that can make it simpler to open lids.

Taking Glucotrol XL with food

You should take Glucotrol XL with breakfast or your first main meal of the day.

Can Glucotrol XL be crushed, split, or chewed?

No, Glucotrol XL should be swallowed whole. The medication is an extended-release tablet. The tablet slowly releases the active drug as it passes through your digestive system.

If you crush, split, or chew Glucotrol XL, this will damage the extended-release action. And all of the active drug will be released at once. This could increase your risk of side effects such as hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). (For additional information about Glucotrol XL side effects, see the “Glucotrol XL side effects” section above.)

If you have trouble swallowing Glucotrol XL whole, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. You can also view this article.

Your doctor will likely recommend you do not take Glucotrol XL during pregnancy.

Glucotrol XL is approved for use with diet and exercise to help improve blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.* However, other drugs that manage your blood sugar may be safer for you to take during pregnancy. According to the American Diabetes Association, insulin is the preferred treatment for type 2 diabetes in pregnant people.

Clinical studies haven’t found an increased risk of congenital anomalies (commonly known as birth defects) or pregnancy loss when Glucotrol XL is taken during pregnancy. However, if you take the drug near delivery, your child may be born with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). This could last for up to 10 days after birth. They may also have breathing problems and an increased risk of needing treatment in a neonatal intensive care unit. (A neonatal intensive care unit is a specialized area of the hospital that cares for premature or ill newborns.)

If you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant, talk with your doctor about the safest way to manage your type 2 diabetes during your pregnancy. It’s important to manage your blood sugar levels during pregnancy. If your diabetes isn’t well-managed during pregnancy, there’s an increased risk of complications for you and your child.

If your doctor recommends taking Glucotrol XL during pregnancy, they’ll usually advise that you switch to a different treatment at least 10 days before your due date.

* For additional information about the use of Glucotrol XL, see the “Glucotrol XL uses” section above.

Your doctor will likely recommend you do not take Glucotrol XL during pregnancy.

If you’re sexually active and you or your partner can become pregnant, talk with your doctor about your birth control needs while you’re taking Glucotrol XL.

For more information about taking Glucotrol XL during pregnancy, see the “Glucotrol XL and pregnancy” section above.

Your doctor will likely recommend you do not take Glucotrol XL while breastfeeding.

Glucotrol XL may pass into your breast milk. And it could cause side effects in a breastfed child. These side effects may include:

If you’re breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed, talk with your doctor about the safest ways to manage your blood sugar levels and feed your child.

Before taking Glucotrol XL, talk with your doctor about your health history. This drug may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors affecting your health. These include:

  • Allergic reaction. If you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to Glucotrol XL or any of its ingredients, your doctor will likely not prescribe it. And if you ever had an allergic reaction to drugs called sulfonamides your doctor will likely not prescribe Glucotrol XL. Ask your doctor about other medications that may be better options for you.
  • Type 1 diabetes or diabetic ketoacidosis. Glucotrol XL is not approved to treat type 1 diabetes or diabetic ketoacidosis, a complication of diabetes. Ask your doctor about other drugs that may be better options for you.
  • Risk of hypoglycemia. Glucotrol XL can sometimes cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) as a side effect. You may have an increased risk of this side effect if you:
    • are ages 65 years or older
    • have kidney, liver, adrenal gland, or pituitary gland problems
    • are very weak or malnourished
    • take other diabetes medications, especially insulin
    • drink large amounts of alcohol
    • often skip meals or don’t eat regularly
    • exercise intensely or for long periods of time

If any of these factors apply to you, talk with your doctor about whether Glucotrol XL is right for you. If your doctor prescribes this drug, they may prescribe a dosage that’s lower than usual. (To learn more about dosage, see the “Glucotrol XL dosage” section above.)

  • Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency. Although rare, Glucotrol XL can cause hemolytic anemia. If you have G6PD deficiency (lack of the G6PD enzyme), you may have an increased risk of this side effect. Due to this risk, your doctor likely won’t prescribe you Glucotrol XL. Ask your doctor about other medications that may be better options for you.
  • Narrowing in your stomach or intestines. Glucotrol XL tablets pass through your digestive system without dissolving. If you have narrowing in your stomach or intestines, the tablets could become stuck and cause a blockage. Due to this risk, your doctor likely won’t prescribe you Glucotrol XL. Ask your doctor if other medications may be better options for you.
  • Pregnancy. Your doctor will likely recommend you do not take Glucotrol XL during pregnancy. For more information, see the “Glucotrol XL and pregnancy” section above.
  • Breastfeeding. Your doctor will likely recommend you do not take Glucotrol XL while breastfeeding. For more details, see the “Glucotrol XL and breastfeeding” section above.

Note: For more information about the potential negative effects of Glucotrol XL, see the “Glucotrol XL side effects” section above.

Using more than the recommended dosage of Glucotrol XL can lead to serious side effects. Do not take more than your doctor recommends. (For additional information about dosage, see the “Glucotrol XL dosage” section above.)

Overdose symptoms

An overdose of Glucotrol XL can cause severe hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). This can quickly become life threatening if it is not treated.

Symptoms can include:

  • shakiness
  • dizziness
  • tingling sensations
  • sweating
  • nausea
  • irritability
  • fast heartbeat
  • blurred vision
  • lack of coordination
  • trouble concentrating
  • confusion
  • slurred speech
  • weakness
  • loss of consciousness
  • seizures
  • coma

What to do in case of overdose

If you think you’ve taken too much of this drug, call your doctor. You can also call the American Association of Poison Control Centers at 800-222-1222 or use its online tool. But if your symptoms are severe, call 911 or your local emergency number, or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

When you get Glucotrol XL from the pharmacy, the pharmacist will add an expiration date to the label on the bottle. This date is typically 1 year from the date they dispensed the medication.

The expiration date helps guarantee that the medication is effective during this time. The current stance of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is to avoid using expired medications. If you have unused medication that has gone past the expiration date, talk with your pharmacist about whether you might still be able to use it.

Storage

How long a medication remains good to use can depend on many factors, including how and where you store the medication.

Glucotrol XL tablets should be stored at room temperature, 68°F to 77°F (20°C to 25°C), in a tightly sealed container. If you’re traveling with the drug, it can be stored between 59°F and 86°F (15°C and 30°C). Avoid storing this medication in areas where it could get damp or wet, such as bathrooms.

Disposal

If you no longer need to take Glucotrol XL and have leftover medication, it’s important to dispose of it safely. This helps prevent others, including children and pets, from taking the drug by accident. It also helps keep the drug from harming the environment.

This article provides several useful tips on medication disposal. You can also ask your pharmacist for information about how to dispose of your medication.

Disclaimer: Medical News Today has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.