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Metformin, a Diabetes Drug, Recalled Due to Possible Cancerous Chemical

— June 3, 2020

Apotex recently announced a recall for the popular diabetes drug, metformin, because the drug may contain possible high levels of N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA).

Earlier this week, a recall was issued for the popular diabetes drug, metformin. The recall was announced by Apotex and was issued because the drug may contain “possible high levels of N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), which is believed to cause cancer in people.” The recall specifically includes “all lots of metformin hydrochloride extended-release tablets 500 mg.” The issued was found by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) during routine testing discovered “higher NDMA levels than allowed” in one lot of the product.

Image of the FDA Logo
FDA Logo; image courtesy of the Food and Drug Administration via Wikimedia Commons,

For those who don’t know, NDMA is an environmental contaminant most commonly found in food and water, such as dairy products, vegetables, and meat products. However, “NDMA contamination triggered numerous recalls of widely-used heart medicines last year.” Metformin hydrochloride extended-release tablets are often prescribed to patients as a supplement to diet and exercise “to improve blood sugar control in adults and children age 10 and older with type 2 diabetes.”

For now, the FDA is urging anyone currently taking the recalled drug to continue doing so until “they can be prescribed an alternative.” An FDA press release states:

“Patients should continue taking metformin tablets even after recalls occur until they consult with their health care professional who can prescribe a replacement. Patients with type 2 diabetes could face dangerous health risks if they stop taking their prescribed metformin.”


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