Zantac made headlines after being recalled for containing a cancer-causing chemical, but similar drugs on the market weren’t receiving the same attention until recently. Metformin contains the same toxic chemical as Zantac, and only now are some brands of this drug being recalled. Millions of Americans with type 2 diabetes take Metformin to regulate high blood pressure, but may be at risk for cancer due to a contaminant called NDMA.
Toxic Drug on Store Shelves
Why was Zantac recalled, but not Metformin, even though they contain the same toxic chemical? Many U.S. citizens trust pharmaceutical companies, but with Metformin still available after Zantac’s recall, something wasn’t adding up.
During the testing of Metformin, lab studies of rats should have sounded the alarm on NDMA’s harmful effects, as rats were found to develop tumors from this toxin. Other countries like Singapore and Canada noticed this danger and declared an official recall of Metformin. The FDA had only previously issued a safety warning for the U.S., and the drug wasn’t officially recalled until June 1st of this year.
The FDA claimed its prior research showed that Metformin had lower levels of NDMA than Zantac, but later testing by another pharmaceutical company painted a darker picture. Testing even more batches of Metformin than the FDA, Valisure Pharmacy found that some batches of Metformin contained higher levels of NDMA than the FDA allows. They also claimed to have used more accurate testing measures in these studies, making their results even more daunting.
On May 28, 2020, the FDA finally took action on this drug. After hearing the findings of Valisure’s testing, the FDA completed further studies of Metformin. The FDA found that several lots of the extended-release products did not meet the acceptable standards of NDMA in their testing. After this, they requested a voluntary recall of the products from five pharmaceutical companies. Two of these manufacturers have already responded to the voluntary recall and have withdrawn their products from the market. However, some of the largest Metformin suppliers in the U.S. have not released any recall notices and are still continuing to produce and sell this drug.
Luckily, the FDA is continuing to work with Metformin manufacturers to ensure proper testing for NDMA. They request that manufacturers inform the agency if their testing shows NDMA above the acceptable intake limit and not release that batch to the market.
Many pharmaceutical companies are still working to understand why some batches of Metformin contain higher levels of NDMA than others. The FDA found that NDMA may be related to the drug’s manufacturing, its chemical structure, or the conditions of where the drug was package or stored.
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Risks of Taking Metformin
Not all brands of Metformin contain such high levels of NDMA, but all Metformin users deserve to know the risks associated with the drug they take on a daily basis. Similar to Zantac, the illnesses associated with NDMA can be deadly or require intense treatment measures. Cancers caused by NDMA include:
- Liver cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Stomach cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Other digestive tract cancers
NDMA can also harm the fetus if a mother takes it during pregnancy.
Should You Stop Taking Metformin?
Metformin is one of the most widely prescribed drugs in the U.S. Even though the drug is associated with dangerous health risks, the FDA does not recommend people stop taking Metformin. Despite its recall, it could be even more dangerous to patients’ health if they were to stop taking their prescribed Metformin. Patients should consult with their health care professionals to be prescribed a replacement drug before stopping Metformin completely.
The FDA has not fully ruled out Metformin as a diabetes drug since some batches weren’t affected. They currently recommend that health care professionals prescribe Metformin only when clinically appropriate. Testing showed that immediate release Metformin products, which are most commonly prescribed, did not contain traces of NDMA.
Metformin may be a popular treatment for diabetes, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t safer alternatives. Speak with your doctor about these safer alternatives:
- Prandin (repaglinide)
- Dapagliflozin (Farxiga)
- Actos (pioglitazone)
- Herbal options
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Pintas & Mullins Can Help
If you developed a serious illness after using Metformin, let our team of experienced drug injury lawyers assist you in making a legal claim. You may be entitled to significant compensation for your injuries. Call us for a free legal consultation today.