Does Metformin Expire?
Metformin, sold under the brand name Glucophage among others, is the first-line medication for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, particularly in people who are overweight. It is also used in the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome. It is not associated with weight gain and is taken by mouth.
Metformin was discovered in the search for antimalarial agents in the 1940s and during clinical tests, proved useful to treat influenza when it sometimes lowered blood glucose. This property was pursued by the French physician Jean Sterne, who first reported the use of metformin to treat diabetes in 1957.
Based on the American Diabetes Association 2019 Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes, “Metformin, if not contraindicated and if tolerated, is the preferred initial pharmacologic agent for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.” Metformin has been on the market in the United States since 1995. Research shows that metformin can reduce the risk of dying from heart disease, lower LDL cholesterol, plaque accumulation and weight. With a long history of use, we know a lot about how metformin works and how people respond to this valuable medication.
How does metformin treat diabetes?
Many healthcare providers prescribe metformin because it helps lower your blood sugar levels after meals (postprandial blood sugar) and your body’s baseline blood sugar levels (basal blood sugar). Both of these measurements are important when it comes to managing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes and keeping blood sugar under control.
Metformin lowers blood sugar in 3 major ways:
1) Makes the body more sensitive to insulin
Metformin is known as an insulin sensitizer. What exactly does that mean?
Insulin is a hormone your body produces to move sugar out of your blood and into cells. By doing this, insulin helps your cells get the energy they need so they can do their jobs. When there is too much sugar in the blood, cells aren’t able to absorb sugar as well as they should, which leads to sugar buildup in the blood. This is known as insulin resistance and can lead to diabetes. As an insulin sensitizer, metformin helps decrease insulin resistance. Cells are able to absorb and use sugar more effectively, which reduces the amount of sugar in your blood.
2) Decreases absorption of sugar
One important way sugar enters your body is through your diet the foods and beverages you eat and drink. Anything you eat or drink travels through your digestive system, past your stomach, and all the way to your intestines. In the intestines, nutrients like sugar are absorbed into your bloodstream. Metformin helps reduce absorption of sugar through the intestines, which means that less sugar makes it to your bloodstream.
3) Lowers sugar production
You know that you get sugar from the foods you eat, but did you know that your body naturally produces sugar, too? Most sugar production happens in the liver. Metformin works by reducing the amount of sugar the liver produces. Some scientists think metformin works mostly in the liver, while others think that metformin’s activity in the intestines is most significant. Regardless, the results for people with diabetes show that metformin’s combined activity improves blood sugar control.
Does Metformin Expire?
Yes, metformin as well as all other medications and supplements do expire. The expiration date is the final day that the manufacturer guarantees the full potency and safety of a medication. Drug expiration dates exist on most medication labels, including prescription, over-the-counter (OTC) and dietary (herbal) supplements. U.S. pharmaceutical manufacturers are required by law to place expiration dates on prescription products prior to marketing.
What happens if you take expired metformin?
According to the FDA, once the expiration date of metformin has passed there is no guarantee that the medicine will be safe and effective. Medication adherence is an important determinant of outcomes in patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes. According to studies, adherence to safe diabetic medications is associated with better control of intermediate risk factors, lower odds of hospitalization, lower health care costs, and lower mortality.
Are some people allergic to metformin?
Metformin allergy is extremely rare. However, similar to other drugs, allergy to metformin may occur. If you suspect you are having an allergic reaction, talk to your doctor right away or go to the nearest emergency room.
Who shouldn’t take metformin for diabetes?
The two most common reasons that patients should not take metformin include: intolerance and kidney damage:
- Patients who do not adjust to or cannot tolerate, the gastrointestinal disturbances would be switched to another medication for blood sugar control.
- Diabetes can cause damage to your kidneys and when your kidneys start to show this damage, your doctor will recommend you change to another medication for blood glucose control. That is not to say that the metformin caused the damage, rather, once you have reached a certain level of damage, you cannot take metformin anymore.