If you have diabetes and are taking prescription medication to manage your blood sugar, it might be time to contact your doctor. The popular diabetes drug metformin is being recalled due to a potentially dangerous contamination.
Beginning on October 5, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the latest recall of metformin made by Marksans Pharma and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries due to the potential presence of cancer-causing agents called nitrosamines. The recall involves the 500 milligram and 700 milligram extended release tablets. The FDA says that the immediate-release metformin does not appear to be contaminated.
Since December 2019, metformin has been under investigation by the FDA for the presence of nitrosamines, which are known to be a carcinogenic agent. This investigation and the recalls follow similar instances where popular blood pressure and heartburn medications, like Zantac, were also found to be contaminated. The FDA says that the original source of these nitrosamines is still unknown.
The FDA has asked that drug companies test their products for nitrosamine levels before they are released and sold on the market. If levels of nitrosamines above the acceptable limit are found, manufacturers must report their findings to the FDA.
The true risk from nitrosamines isn’t clear, but the FDA says that they can increase the risk of cancer over a long period of time. However, they were sure to mention that they “do not anticipate that shorter term exposure at levels above the acceptable intake limit would lead to an increase in the risk of cancer.”
All this being said, it’s not a good idea to simply stop taking your metformin. If you have type 2 diabetes and are taking the drug, the FDA says you should consult with your health care provider immediately for a replacement drug or prescription before stopping use of your medication, as this could pose serious risks to your health.
Patients can view a list of all the recalled metformin products on this FDA webpage.