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What is Metformin?

Metformin is a type of diabetes medication. It is only available via prescription for those who have been unsuccessful in controlling their blood sugar levels through regular diet and exercise alone.

It is a very commonly prescribed medication for diabetes treatment. It is also marketed under brand names such as Glucophage®, Glucophage® SR, Metsol®, Bolamyn® SR, Fortamet®, Riomet® and Glumetza®.

What is it used for?

Taking Metformin over long periods also helps to lower the risk of complications associated with diabetes. It is most commonly prescribed to diabetic patients who are overweight.

As well as treating type 2 diabetes, Metformin can be given to pregnant women with gestational diabetes. This type of diabetes occurs during pregnancy and tends to go away shortly after the woman has delivered.

Metformin can also be used to treat polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in women, however, it is not licensed for this use.

How does it work?

To treat diabetes, Metformin changes how your body reacts to insulin. That way, your cells can absorb glucose from the blood and bring blood sugar levels back down after you eat.

Diabetes is a severe condition that causes your blood sugar levels to become too high. Either your body stops producing the correct amount of insulin, or your body doesn’t respond to insulin as it should.

Metformin contains an active ingredient called Metformin hydrochloride, which belongs to a group of medicines called biguanides. As well as increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin, this medication lowers glucose production in the liver.

Losing weight also helps to improve blood sugar control. If you have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and need to take Metformin, consider changing your eating habits to improve your condition further.

How is Metformin taken?

You should only ever take Metformin as prescribed and follow the instructions on the patient leaflet closely. It is recommended you take each prescribed tablet during or after meals and swallow it without chewing. Regular blood tests should be conducted by your doctor to ensure blood sugar levels are maintained.

Metformin is taken two or three times per day as a 500mg or 850mg tablet. The maximum dose is 3,000mg a day, split into three individual doses. If you feel that your prescribed dosage is too strong or too weak, you can arrange an appointment with your doctor to adjust it after 10 to 15 days.

There is also a modified-release version available. These exist in the dosages of 500mg, 750mg and 100mg. The maximum dose for modified-release tablets is 2,000mg a day. Your doctor will prescribe this if the immediate release tablets are deemed unsuitable. From a user perspective, the main difference is that the dose should be taken once daily, usually with a meal in the evening.

Is it effective?

Metformin has been proven to effectively treat high blood sugar levels.

One particular study Trusted source National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) Government Source Biomedical Research and Literature Go to source was conducted on Metformin and its ability to prevent type 2 diabetes. Several randomised clinical trials involved testing two different groups of prediabetics. One group was taking Metformin while the other was on a placebo drug.

Both groups also made significant lifestyle changes in an attempt to reduce the development of type 2 diabetes.

The results found that:

  • The development of diabetes was reduced by 58% in the group taking Metformin.
  • The development of diabetes was reduced by 31% in the placebo group.

Metformin was proven to significantly reduce prediabetics from developing type 2 diabetes compared with the placebo.

How is it used?

Always take any prescribed medication as per your doctor’s instructions. However, some guidance on using Metformin is written below.

Metformin is most commonly taken in tablet form and swallowed with a glass of water. The available dosages are:

Oral film-coated tablets Modified-release tablets
  • 500 mg
  • 850 mg
  • 1000 mg
  • 500 mg
  • 750 mg
  • 1000 mg

Modified-release tablets are designed to release the medication into your system more slowly. This can help to reduce side effects.

Most adults start by taking either 500 mg or 850 mg tablets twice or three times per day. The maximum daily dose is 2000 mg, which should be taken in no more than 3 doses.

Take Metformin with or just after a meal, as this limits digestion-related side effects. Ensure that you do not crush or chew the tablets - swallow them whole with water.

Please note: If you are also taking insulin, your doctor will likely give you different instructions on how to take Metformin.

Who can use it?

Metformin can be prescribed to most people who have diabetes and need to control their blood sugar levels.

However, you should not take Metformin if:

  • you are allergic to Metformin hydrochloride or any of the other ingredients found in this medication
  • you have liver problems
  • you have severely reduced kidney function
  • you are a heavy drinker
  • you have recently had severe cardiovascular problems such as heart failure
  • you have severe, uncontrolled diabetes
An infographic displaying who is not suitable to take Metformin

Metformin should be discontinued if:

  • you need to have surgery that involves being under general anaesthetic
  • you need to have an x-ray taken
  • you need a specific type of scan that involves injecting iodine into the bloodstream

Other warnings and precautions

While taking Metformin there is a very small chance of developing a very serious side effect called lactic acidosis - especially if your kidneys aren’t working properly. This condition causes part of the body to suffer from a lack of oxygen due to a build-up of lactic acid.

Lactic acidosis is a medical emergency and requires hospitalisation. Signs of lactic acidosis include:

  • vomiting
  • stomach ache or abdominal pain
  • muscle cramps
  • feeling unwell in combination with feeling severely tired
  • difficulty breathing
  • reduced body temperature and heartbeat

Seek emergency medical aid immediately if you experience any of these signs while taking Metformin.

What medicines can interact with Metformin?

It’s important to tell your doctor about any medication(s) you are currently taking because some drugs can interact with Metformin. This could cause health problems or stop certain medicines from working.

If you are taking any of the following medicines, your Metformin dose may have to be reduced - or you may not be able to take Metformin at all:

  • any kind of diuretics (medicines that increase urine production)
  • beta-2 agonists (used to treat asthma)
  • corticosteroids (used to treat a variety of conditions including acne)
  • other medicines used to treat diabetes
  • medicines used to treat pain inflammation, including standard painkillers like ibuprofen and paracetamol
  • certain medicines for the treatment of high blood pressure

What are the possible side effects?

Like all medicines, Metformin can cause side effects - although not everybody will experience them.

The most common side effects of Metformin are digestion problems, including:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • constipation
  • bloating
  • tummy pain
  • loss of appetite
An infographic displaying the side effects of Metformin, a diabetes medication

These side effects are usually their worst when you first start taking medication. Spread your doses out evenly throughout the day and take them after a meal to prevent them from happening.

Other common side effects of Metformin include:

  • changes in taste
  • vitamin B12 deficiency

Low levels of vitamin b12 can result in a sore and red tongue, pins and needles or paler/yellow skin.

Can I buy Metformin online?

Yes, it’s possible to buy Metformin tablets online here at euroClinix.

Simply complete your consultation by filling out our online questionnaire. Your answers will then be reviewed by one of our registered doctors, who will offer you a prescription for Metformin if you are suitable for this treatment.

Once approved, your treatment will be sent out to you in discreet packaging with free delivery.

Note: You must complete a short online consultation so that our doctor can ensure that the treatment is suitable for you. The above pricing should only be used as a reference. The final decision to issue this treatment lies with the prescribing doctor.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Caroline Fontana Written by our editorial team Last reviewed 03-04-2024
Metformin information
Product name Metformin
Active ingredient(s) Metformin hydrochloride
Manufacturer Various
Trustpilot rating 4.8/5
Trustpilot reviews 581
Availability Out of stock
Administration Oral
Presentation Tablets
Available dosage 500mg, 750mg, 850mg, 1g
Exemption Subject to medical prescription
Application Men and women over 18 with type 2 diabetes
Usage Metformin should be taken as per your doctor’s instructions
Description Metformin is an oral medication prescribed for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
Drug class Biguanides
Alcohol consumption Avoid alcohol consumption while taking Metformin
While pregnant/breastfeeding May be used in some pregnant/breastfeeding women. Consult your doctor beforehand.
Metformin reviews
Metformin Excellent 4.8 581 patients have reviewed Metformin on Trustpilot
27 Jun

Worth the money

Hajnalka-Ibolya Kusnyer
04 Dec

Does what it needs to

Mark Lovell
27 Jun

Right price and immediate delivery

Dr Michael Wharrad

Further reading

Understanding and managing Metformin's side effects

Understanding and managing Metformin's side effects

Reviewed by Dr. Caroline Fontana
What causes diabetes?

What causes diabetes?

Reviewed by Dr. Caroline Fontana
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