Metformin is an oral antidiabetic drug for the treatment of diabetes. Created by Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Metformin is approved in the US and the UK as a treatment for type 2 diabetes
Click here to read our Diabetes and Metformin FAQs including information on lactic acidosis.
Other Names for Metformin
Metformin is sold both under brand names, and also as a generic drug. Common brand names include:
Metformin contains the active ingredient metformin hydrochloride (or metformin hcl). Metformin is available both in combination with other drugs, or as a single treatment (a monotherapy).
Metformin was approved in 1994 (in the USA) and is prescribed as:
- 500mg tablets
- 850mg tablets
- 500mg modified-release tablets
- 750mg modified-release tablets
- 1g modified-release tablets
- 1g oral powder sachets sugar free
- 500mg oral powder sachets sugar free
- 500mg/5ml oral solution sugar free
Metformin is also available as metformin SR, a slow release or modified release form of the medication.
Modified release versions of metformin may be prescribed for people experiencing significant gastro-intestinal intolerance as a result of standard metformin.
Type 2 drug
Metformin is a type 2 diabetic drug, and helps diabetics to respond normally to insulin. Like most diabetic drugs, the ultimate goals of Metformin are to lower blood sugar to a normal level and maintain this level. Metformin can be used in conjunction with other diabetic drugs, and diabetics should also use diet and exercise to help control their condition.
How Metformin Works
Metformin helps the body to control blood sugar in several ways. The drug helps type 2 diabetics respond better to their own insulin, lower the amount of sugar created by the liver, and decreasing the amount of sugar absorbed by the intestines.
When taken alone, Metformin is unlikely to cause hypoglycemia or weight gain, but when taken in conjunction with insulin or a sulfonylurea both of these side effects are more likely.
Metformin and cancer benefits
A number of research studies indicate that metformin may be beneficial in reducing incidence of a variety of cancers.
- Diabetes treatment could reduce risk of liver cancer
- More evidence on common diabetes drug lowering cancer risk
- Diabetes drug metformin could help lower breast cancer risk
- Metformin associated with reduced mortality rates after major surgery
Metformin and COVID-19s
More recently, metformin has been researched in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic.