Metformin was the sixth most frequently prescribed medication last year.  The medication metformin was first described in scientific literature in 1922 and in 1929 scientists discovered that it lowered sugars in rabbits.  It received FDA approval in 1994 to treat Diabetes type II under the brand name Glucaphage and has become one of the most widely prescribed medications in the United States.  

What is metformin for?

Metformin is used for the management of type II diabetes when hyperglycemia cannot be controlled with diet and exercise alone.

How does metformin work?

Metformin works by decreasing the amount of glucose produced by the liver, decreases the absorption of glucose in the intestines and improves the body's sensitivity to insulin.

Side effects

The most common side effects are gastrointestinal.  One that I still remember from pharmacy school is gas....and also diarrhea and nausea/vomiting.  Other side effects include flushing, headache, indigestion, abdominal discomfort and hypoglycemia.

What I should know




  • If you have any allergic reaction or sensitivity, contact your doctor

  • If you have renal disease, let your doctor know. Your dose may need to be adjusted. Decreased renal function can lower the clearance of metformin and lead to metabolic acidosis, diabetic ketoacidosis or acute myocardial infarction.

EducationJoanna Simmon