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Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2007 Mar;75(3):255-66. Epub 2006 Jul 27.

Role of metformin in the initiation of pharmacotherapy for type 2 diabetes: an Asian-Pacific perspective.

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Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, The Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, Hongkong.


Increases in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes of 30-60% will occur in many Asian-Pacific countries by 2025, driven by urbanisation, sedentary habits and energy-rich diets. Obesity, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and diabetes are closely interrelated. Optimal control of diabetes and associated risk factors has reduced the risk of diabetes-related complications. In the UK Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS), metformin reduced the risk of macrovascular complications and retrospective analyses have confirmed the efficacy of metformin in improving clinical outcomes in type 2 diabetic patients with a history of cardiovascular disease. This growing body of evidence has led to the recommendation of metformin as optimum initial pharmacotherapy in overweight type 2 diabetic patients. Obesity is less prevalent in the Asian-Pacific population than in Caucasian populations. Nevertheless, metformin has multiple beneficial metabolic effects, which provide sufficient rationale for it to be recommended as the initial oral anti-diabetic pharmacotherapy, alone or in combination, irrespective of body mass index. This recommendation is consistent with global guidelines and regional recommendations for the Asian-Pacific region from the International Diabetes Federation. These recommendations can serve as templates for development of local guidelines for Asian people with diabetes, given the ethnic and cultural diversity within the region.

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