Carcinogen Found in Metformin Leads to Recalls

If you, or someone you love, suffers from diabetes, chances are that you have heard of a medicine called Metformin. Metformin is a popular and inexpensive diabetes medication which works with enzymes on the liver to lower glucose absorption from food and the production of new glucose. In other words, it is used to control the blood-sugar levels of diabetic people, specifically type-2 diabetics. People taking metformin may be prescribed either regular metformin, sometimes called “immediate release” metformin, or metformin ER (“extended release”), or both. The difference between the two is that metformin ER does not need to be taken as often.

On May 28, 2020, the United States Food & Drug Administration issued a press release announcing that several lots of metformin ER may contain carcinogenic materials such as N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA). This means that metformin ER contains chemicals that are known to cause cancer. These chemicals were not found in high levels in immediate-release metformin.

The FDA proceeded to contact manufacturers of metformin ER to recall the drug. Since this announcement, many manufacturers have recalled metformin ER after finding high levels of NDMA carcinogens on the drug. However, the FDA stated in its press release that patients should continue taking metformin tablets even after recalls occur, until they are able to consult with a doctor who can prescribe a replacement. This is because type 2 diabetics could face dangerous health risks if they stop taking their prescribed metformin.

The agency began investigating metformin in December after reports of some other versions of the medication sold in other countries were found to have dangerous levels of NDMA. NDMA is a common contaminant found in water and foods including dairy products and vegetables, although in non-dangerous levels.

The FDA initially held that metformin ER did not have sufficiently high levels of NDMA to consider it a risk, but later overturned its decision after conducting various tests in several batches of metformin ER. As a result, the FDA contacted manufacturers to take quick and appropriate action to protect the public health. Still, many consumers were affected when they consumed the medicine. The types of cancer linked to NDMA range from liver and kidney cancer to intestinal and stomach cancer.

If you or someone you know has been injured by a recalled medication, please contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling 713-396-3964 or 1-800-594-4884 for a free consultation.