One-third of type 2 diabetes patients prescribed metformin – the mostly commonly recommended diabetes drug – aren’t taking their medication due to side effects, researchers in the United Kingdom have found.
Troubling research from the University of Surrey found that up to a third of people who prescribed metformin – the most commonly prescribed drug for treating type 2 diabetes – are not taking the drug. The team of British scientists headed by Professor Andrew McGovern, published their results on December 17, 2017, in Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism. The team studied data for 48 studies covering more than 1.6 million type 2 diabetes patients. They observed that the patients who are given metformin are the least likely to follow medical advice and take the required dosages compared to other diabetes drugs.
Metformin helps to lower blood sugar levels by lowering the amount of sugar made by the liver. The drug also increases the sensitivity of muscle cells to insulin. However, it also has a number of uncomfortable side effects. The drug can lead to gastrointestinal side effects, including diarrhoea and flatulence, but also anxiety, blurred vision, chills, fast heartbeat, fever, depression, nightmares and slurred speech. McGovern said the importance of diabetics taking their prescribed meds “cannot be underestimated.” Not sticking to a routine, he said, can complicate a patient’s condition.
“The importance of diabetes patients taking their prescribed medication cannot be underestimated,” said the Clinical Researcher. “A failure to do so can lead to complications in their condition including eye disease and kidney damage.” He further warns: “I urge anyone who is struggling to take their medication as prescribed, whether this is because of side effects or because the schedule is too complicated, to discuss this openly with their doctor or nurse.”
“We have known for a long time that a lot of medication prescribed for chronic diseases never actually get taken. What this latest research suggests is that patients find some of these medication classes much easier to take than others.” But there is some good news: it is always possible to swap treatment. “Fortunately for type 2 diabetes we have lots of treatment options, and switching to a different medication class which is easier to take could provide an easy way to improve adherence”, the study concludes.
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