Metformin Gets Highest Marks in Diabetes Study

Analysis Suggests Metformin Should Be First-Line Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes

By Jennifer Warner
WebMD Health News

Reviewed By Laura J. Martin, MD

March 14, 2011 -- The drug metformin should be considered as a first choice for blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes, according to a new study.

In type 2 diabetes, the body cannot use its own insulin effectively to maintain blood sugar within normal levels. Medication is usually needed keep it under control.

Metformin (Fortamet, Glucophage, Glumetza, Riomet) is one of the most widely prescribed diabetes drugs in the U.S.

There are 11 classes of drugs approved to help control blood sugar in type 2 diabetes; nine of these classes are relatively new and have been introduced since 1995.

Risks vs. Benefits

Researchers say most adults with type 2 diabetes use more than one class of diabetes drugs to achieve optimal blood sugar control, and up-to-date comparisons of the benefits vs. the risks of these new drugs are necessary.

In their review, researchers looked at more than 160 studies on the benefits vs. risks of various diabetes drugs and drug combinations. The results showed metformin, both on its own and in combination with other medications, had the best benefit-to-risk profile in controlling blood sugar.

“Although the long-term benefits and harms of diabetes medications remains unclear, the evidence supports the use of metformin as a first-line agent,” write researcher Wendy L. Bennett of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and colleagues in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The review also showed that a comparison of various two-drug treatment combinations did not clearly show that one specific combination was more beneficial than the others.


Type 2 Diabetes: Signs, Symptoms, Treatments See Slideshow

Bennett, W. Annals of Internal Medicine, published online March 14, 2011.

News release, American College of Physicians.

© 2011 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors