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How it works: Metformin decreases glucose production from the liver, thus lowering blood sugar. Recent evidence suggests that metformin has some glucose-lowering action directly via the intestine.    

Who Uses It: Metformin is typically the first-prescribed glucose-lowering drug for someone diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. It’s not typically used in type 1 diabetes.

In-Depth Article: What is Metformin?A detailed article on the many effects of metformin, even including its potential cancer-fighting ability.

Approved Drugs:

  • Glumetza

  • Fortamet

  • Riomet

  • Glucophage (normal or extended release)



  • Cheap and generic

  • Oral pill, no needles

  • May decrease insulin resistance

  • No weight gain

  • Low risk of hypoglycemia

  • Safe and well studied

  • Clinical evidence suggests that it may reduce the risk of heart disease


  • Some gastrointestinal side effects (can be helped with extended-release [XR] formulations)

  • Typically only a “first line” treatment for type 2 diabetes - over time, most patients will need to add other drugs

  • Limitations in patients with higher degrees of kidney impairment


Other articles: 

Last updated: February 28, 2018