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Kidney Fund concerned about Glucophage fatality risk

The American Kidney Fund (AKF) is concerned that Glucophage (metformin) may be fatal to a significant number of diabetes patients who take the prescription medication.

Glucophage is a biguanide hypoglycaemic developed by Lipha (Merck KGaA) and licensed to Bristol-Myers Squibb for the U.S. The product helps the body use insulin and is among the most common drugs for the management of Type II diabetes.

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the product can cause a rare side effect, lactic acidosis, a build-up of lactic acid in the blood that is fatal in about half of all cases.

Although the drug package insert warns of this side effect and states that Glucophage should not be used by patients who have kidney disease or those taking drugs for heart failure, the concern is that patients may have kidney disease and not know it.

Posted: June 2002