Definition

A biguanide hypoglycemic agent used in the treatment of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus not responding to dietary modification. Metformin improves glycemic control by improving insulin sensitivity and decreasing intestinal absorption of glucose. (From Martindale, The Extra Pharmacopoeia, 30th ed, p289) 1,1-Dimethylbiguanide or Metformin is a biguanide hypoglycemic agent used in the treatment of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus not responding to dietary modification. Metformin improves glycemic control by improving insulin sensitivity and decreasing intestinal absorption of glucose. Metformin is the most popular anti-diabetic drug in the United States and one of the most prescribed drugs in the country overall, with nearly 35 million prescriptions filled in 2006 for generic metformin alone. [HMDB]

Description

Metformin is the most popular anti-diabetic drug in the United States and one of the most prescribed drugs in the country overall, with nearly 35 million prescriptions filled in 2006 for generic metformin alone. Metformin is a biguanide antihyperglycemic agent used for treating non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). It improves glycemic control by decreasing hepatic glucose production, decreasing glucose absorption and increasing insulin-mediated glucose uptake. Metformin is the only oral antihyperglycemic agent that is not associated with weight gain. Metformin may induce weight loss and is the drug of choice for obese NIDDM patients. When used alone, metformin does not cause hypoglycemia; however, it may potentiate the hypoglycemic effects of sulfonylureas and insulin. Its main side effects are dyspepsia, nausea and diarrhea. Dose titration and/or use of smaller divided doses may decrease side effects. Metformin should be avoided in those with severely compromised renal function (creatinine clearance < 30 ml/min), acute/decompensated heart failure, severe liver disease and for 48 hours after the use of iodinated contrast dyes due to the risk of lactic acidosis. Lower doses should be used in the elderly and those with decreased renal function. Metformin decreases fasting plasma glucose, postprandial blood glucose and glycosolated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels, which are reflective of the last 8-10 weeks of glucose control. Metformin may also have a positive effect on lipid levels. In 2012, a combination tablet of linagliptin plus metformin hydrochloride was marketed under the name Jentadueto for use in patients when treatment with both linagliptin and metformin is appropriate.

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