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The results of a 20-month study on metformin (Glucophage) use were published in the January 1999 issue of Diabetes Care. Data collected from researchers at the health maintenance organization Kaiser Permanente revealed that there seemed to be good adherence to prescription guidelines, as well as an improvement in glucose control and rare incidence of lactic acidosis, in patients taking metformin.
Prior to metformin treatment, 74 percent of 9,875 patients were treated with sulfonylureas alone. Eighty-one percent had an average HbA1c of 8.5%.
Follow-up HbA1c values were available for 6,529 patient who had started metformin. The average decrease in HbA1c for those using metformin was 1.4%. Women using metformin demonstrated greater improvement than men. Insulin users were less likely to experience improvement in HbA1c levels than patients previously using sulfonylureas.
There were 25 diagnoses of lactic acidosis in the patients taking metformin, although it was proven that only one diagnosis was related to metformin usage.
Researchers felt that metformin was beneficial in improving blood glucose control as evidenced by reduced HbA1c levels. Lactic acidosis was not considered a common side effect.
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