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Metformin (Biguanide)

Metformin is usually the first medication prescribed to people with Type 2 diabetes if a healthy diet and physical activity alone hasn't helped control your blood glucose (sugar) levels.

The only biguanide used is metformin. It is available in different forms – tablets for immediate release (up to three times per day) or prolonged release (usually once a day), and oral solution and powder for oral solution for immediate release.

Metformin works in two ways:

  • It helps to stop the liver producing new glucose
  • It helps to overcome insulin resistance by making insulin carry glucose into muscle cells more effectively.

It is often used for people who are overweight because it generally does not encourage weight gain and can reduce the risk of cardiovascular complications like heart attacks.

Medications in the Biguanide family

Generic or proper name Brand or trade name
Metformin IR (immediate release) Glucophage
Metformin PR (prolonged release) Glucophage SR

Medications in the Biguanide family

Metformin can also be combined with other medication in a single tablet:

Generic or proper name Brand or trade name
Metformin + Pioglitazone Competact
Metformin + Vildagliptin Eucreas
Metformin + Sitagliptin Janumet

Side effects

All medication has side effects and you should check the patient information leaflet (PIL) supplied with your medication to see which side effects you might experience from your particular medication. Remember that you are unlikely to experience all side effects that are listed, and you may not experience any at all. If you do, speak to your doctor as there may be another diabetes medication you could try instead.

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