Hypoglycemics – Metformin HCL , which goes by the trade name “Glucophage”, is an oral anti-hyperglycemic agent typically used in treating type II diabetes. (5) The effects of metformin HCL both in terms of immediate effects and recompositioning effects are similar to those of insulin, although not as powerful. This makes it a safer alternative to insulin as there is a lesser chance of blood sugar dropping dangerously low. (1) Metformin HCL is often used as an introductory drug to insulin, so that the individual may become comfortable with manipulating their blood sugar levels. Metformin HCL typically comes in a sustained-release tablet which absorbs slowly in the gastrointestinal tract. These tablets are absorbed over a period of about 6 hours to provide a steady release of metformin HCL, and they also show similar or slightly higher bioavailability than immediate release dosing. (3, 4)
One possible side effect of metformin hcl is gastrointestinal upset, which seems to be corrected by the sustained-release tablets. (2) One more possible side effect development of lactic acidosis, in which lactate levels increase and blood pH decreases, causing a dangerous state of acidosis. (6) Cases of lactic acidosis are very rare, but still a risk to consider in using metformin HCL.
1. Ali O, Obaid R, & Ahmed SW. (2003). Hypoglycemic potential of tablet Metformin 500 mg (Glucophage & Metphage): a pharmacological end point evaluation. Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 16(2), 29-41.
2. Karttunen P, Uusitupa M, & Lamminsivu U. (1983). The pharmacokinetics of metformin: a comparison of the properties of a rapid-release and a sustained-release preparation. International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, Therapy, and Toxicology. 21(1), 31-6.
3. Pentikäinen PJ. (1986). Bioavailability of metformin. Comparison of solution, rapidly dissolving tablet, and three sustained release products. International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, Therapy, and Toxicology. 24(4), 213-20.
4. Gusler G, Gorsline J, Levy G, Zhang SZ, Weston IE, Naret D, & Berner B. (2001). Pharmacokinetics of metformin gastric-retentive tablets in healthy volunteers. Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 41(6), 655-61.
5. Scheen AJ. (1996). Clinical pharmacokinetics of metformin. Clinical Pharmacokinetics. 30(5), 359-71.
6. Lalau JD. (2010). Lactic acidosis induced by metformin: incidence, management and prevention. Drug Safety : an International Journal of Medical Toxicology and Drug Experience. 33(9), 727