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Diabete Metab. 1979 Sep;5(3):233-45.

Metformin: a review of its pharmacological properties and therapeutic use.


In a survey, the pharmacological and clinical documentation of metformin is presented and discussed, and the present state of knowledge relating to metformin-associated lactic acidosis is reviewed. The use of metformin in the treatment of diabetes is based on clinical experience over twenty years. It has been well documented that metformin is effective in maturity-onset diabetes both as monotherapy and in combination with a sulphonylurea. An advantage of metformin treatment is the tendency to weight reduction and the absence of significant hypoglycaemia; blood glucose levels are reduced only to normal. The disadvantages are the gastro-intestinal side effects and the potential risk of vitamin B 12 and folic acid deficiency during long-term use. Metformin-associated lactic acidosis is a very rare complication, which has mainly occured in patients with serious renal insufficiency or other contra-indications to the use of metformin. The association between phenformin and lactic acidosis has led to withdrawal of this biguanide in several countries. Metformin differs from phenformin in certain important respects, and the normal use of metformin does not involve the risk of side effects disproportionate to the intended effect. Further experimental studies are required to substantiate pharmacokinetics and metabolic effects of metformin in man.

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