6 Interesting Facts about America’s Most Prescribed Diabetes Drug

Metformin (Glucophage) treats more than type 2 diabetes.


Metformin is an anti-diabetic pill that helps to lower blood glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. You may use it alone or in combination with insulin or another class of oral anti-diabetic drug.

It is available in the form of conventional tablets, extended-release tablets, and film-coated tablets. According to GoodRx, metformin ranks eighth in the list of the most prescribed drugs in the US in 2017.

How does Metformin help to Control Type 2 Diabetes?

Metformin works by several mechanisms that are different from other related drugs. Most notably, it increases the sensitivity of muscle, fat, and liver to insulin. Hence, it is also called “insulin sensitizer.” Also, it reduces the production of glucose by the liver.

Metformin is a Unique Drug that Treats Diabetes. Here is Why.

#1. Originally, scientists were testing metformin as a drug for malaria in the 1940s.

It was only during the experiment that the researchers realized its glucose-lowering property. French physician Jean Sterne was the first person to report its use in the treatment of diabetes in 1957.

#2. Metformin may be more effective than other anti-diabetic drugs, both oral and injectable.  

Studies show metformin reduces diabetes-related mortality and complications by thirty percent compared to insulin, glibenclamide, and chlorpropamide.

#3. In the late 1970s, it almost went out of the market.

Because more effective drugs like phenformin and buformin dominated the market. Also, metformin is notorious for causing a potentially life-threatening condition called lactic acidosis.

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#4. It made a comeback only after 1998.  

In 1998, the UK Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS) revealed its positive effects on heart health and thus paved the way for its grand reemergence.

#5. It also treats a female condition, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).

Among many other symptoms of PCOS, insulin resistance is a major concern for which Metformin may be effective. However,

#6. It is a powerful antioxidant.

For this reason, scientists looking for its effectiveness against certain cancers.

  1. GoodRx. URL Link. Retrieved October 03, 2017.
  2. US FDA. URL Link. Retrieved October 03, 2017.
  3. Journal of Research in Medical Sciences. URL Link. Retrieved October 03, 2017.
  4. Diabetologia. URL Link. Retrieved October 03, 2017.

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Shailesh is a registered pharmacist and freelance medical writer from Nepal. He has a keen interest in psychology, behavioral science, and health technology. He loves coffee, traveling, cricket and reading.