Metformin is considered one of the best treatments in the world, and one of the only drugs approved as a pre-diabetic treatment. To determine if Metformin is dangerous, the drug is under investigation by agencies like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for possible contamination of NDMA, a known carcinogen.
Doctors sing the praises of Metformin for its effectiveness in treating type 2 diabetes, which millions of Americans have, and millions more of Americans are at risk for, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Metformin is not inherently unsafe, and is even used in treatment for Prediabetes for people whose blood glucose levels are not quite high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. However, recent investigations into the drug have pharmaceutical researchers pulling the alarm for recalls of Metformin.
Why Metformin May Be Dangerous
For some people with pre-existing liver conditions, Metformin is dangerous. According to the University of Louisiana at Monroe, Metformin has a breadth of drug interactions, including other diabetic medications that it is often prescribed alongside. The biggest concern for people with liver conditions and people taking medications that have reactions with Metformin is the known risk of lactic acidosis, a condition that prevents the liver from properly removing acid from the body. In some cases, lactic acidosis can be fatal.
Another developing safety issue with Metformin originated from the Health Sciences Authority in Singapore, which recalled 3 out of 46 Metformin medicines that contained unsafe levels of NDMA, or N-nitrosodimethylamine. In response, drug agencies in Europe, as well as the FDA in the United States announced their own investigations into domestic production of Metformin. However, neither of the agencies recommended recalls for any of the Metformin-containing drugs currently on the market. Months later, the investigations into unsafe levels of NDMA in Metformin continue.
Unknown Dangers of Metformin From NDMA
As investigations into Metformin continue, it is important to understand the potential risks of NDMA, which is currently regulated in water and food by the Federal government agencies like the FDA. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) released a public health statement concerning NDMA discussing the risks and consequences of unhealthy exposure levels.
The report from the ATSDR contains reports about experiments done with lab rats, mice, and hamsters who were fed various levels of NDMA to understand its short-term and long-term effects. The ATSDR reported that rodents experienced “liver cancer and lung cancer as well as non-cancerous liver damage.” For cases of non-cancerous damage, liver damage and internal bleeding could be expected.
In humans, the ATSDR reported that “it is reasonable to expect that exposure to NDMA by eating, drinking, or breathing could cause cancer in humans,” although at the time of the report there were no confirmed links between cancer cases and NDMA. In known cases of NDMA poisoning in humans, there was liver damage and internal bleeding.
Seemingly in contrast to these findings, the ATSDR reported that “exposure to NDMA does not mean that any effect on health will definitely occur.” However, it seems like the fight against NDMA may just be getting started. Zantac, a consumer-level heartburn medication, was pulled out of manufacturing and retail shelves when it was found to contain levels of NDMA that were above the FDA recommended safe level.
Metformin Is Not Banned
While NDMA is regulated and not recommended for use in consumer products, the findings of the chemical in common household medications like Zantac are an understandable cause for concern. Millions of Americans depend on the functional and proven effectiveness of Metformin for treatment of type 2 diabetes, which is one reason the FDA hesitates to issue recalls before the drug undergoes thorough analysis.
Additionally, humans are thought to be safely exposed to NDMA up to a certain point, with trace amounts in everything from cosmetics to food and water. Despite the findings of researchers on the chemical toxicity of NDMA in lab rats, doctors continue to prescribe Metformin in good will. Even children and pregnant women may be prescribed Metformin to control symptoms of type 2 diabetes or prediabetes.
This medication could put millions of unknowing Americans of all ages at increased risk for developing cancer, which some diabetics are already at a higher risk than others without autoimmune diseases. Until the FDA releases more information about their findings in drugs like Metformin, which may contain NDMA, millions of Americans may continue to rack up unnecessary medical bills and costs to treat undisclosed complications of the drug.
Legal Options for People Taking Metformin
Were you or a loved one prescribed Metformin for treatment of type 2 diabetes, and currently being treated for cancer? The lawyers at Pintas & Mullins are willing and ready to defend your rights. Call our offices now for a free consultation with a member of our team: (800) 794-0444.