July 23, 2014
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Drug Factsheets

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Glucophage

(metformin)

DIN (Drug Identification Number)

02099233 GLUCOPHAGE 500MG TABLET
02162849 GLUCOPHAGE 850MG TABLET

What side effects are possible with Glucophage?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.

The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • diarrhea
  • loss of appetite
  • metallic taste in mouth
  • nausea
  • passing of gas
  • stomach ache
  • vomiting
  • weight loss

Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not check with your doctor or seek medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • low blood sugar (mild), including:
    • anxiety
    • behavioural changes similar to being drunk
    • blurred vision
    • cold sweats
    • confusion
    • cool, pale skin
    • difficulty concentrating
    • drowsiness
    • excessive hunger
    • fast heartbeat
    • headache
    • nausea
    • nervousness
    • nightmares
    • restless sleep
    • shakiness
    • slurred speech

Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • lactic acidosis (quick and severe), including:
    • fast, shallow breathing
    • muscle pain or cramping
    • slow or irregular heartbeat
    • unusual sleepiness
    • unusual stomach ache (after the initial stomach ache that can occur at the start of therapy)
    • unusual tiredness or weakness

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.





Are there any other precautions or warnings for Glucophage?

Before you begin taking a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should take this medication.

Alcohol intake: Anyone taking metformin should avoid excessive alcohol intake.

Blood sugar control: If you develop/have fever, trauma, infection, or surgery, a temporary loss of blood sugar control may occur. At such times, your doctor may think it is necessary to stop metformin and temporarily inject insulin. Metformin may be started again after the problem is resolved.

Blood sugar monitoring: Monitor your blood sugar regularly at intervals as discussed with your doctor or diabetes educator.

Diabetes complications: The use of metformin (or any other medication used for diabetes) will not prevent the development of complications peculiar to diabetes mellitus (e.g., kidney disease, nerve disease, eye disease).

Diet: Metformin is a treatment to be taken in combination with a proper diet. Metformin is not a substitute for proper diet.

Kidney problems: If you have kidney problems, your doctor should closely monitor your condition while you are taking metformin, as it may affect kidney function.

Lactic acidosis: Lactic acidosis is a rare but serious problem that occurs due to metformin accumulation (i.e., the body doesn't get rid of it fast enough) during treatment. If you have severe kidney disease you are at higher risk of developing lactic acidosis. Since alcohol may increase the risk of lactic acidosis, do not drink a lot of alcohol over the short- or long-term while taking this medication. When it does occur (very rarely), it is fatal in 50% of cases. There have been no reports of lactic acidosis in Canada when metformin was used as directed. If you experience symptoms of lactic acidosis (e.g., weakness, tiredness, drowsiness, unusual muscle pain, trouble breathing, stomach pain with nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, feeling cold, dizziness, light-headedness, or slow or irregular heartbeat), stop taking this medication and get immediate medical attention.

Low blood sugar: Under usual circumstances, low blood sugar does not occur for people who take only metformin. Low blood sugar could occur when not enough food is eaten, especially when strenuous exercise is undertaken at the same time or when large amounts of alcohol have been consumed.

Reduced response: Over a period of time, you may become progressively less responsive to a particular treatment for diabetes because their diabetes worsens. If metformin fails to lower blood sugar to target levels, talk to your doctor. Your doctor may want to stop metformin or recommend another medication.

Pregnancy: This medication should not be used during pregnancy. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.

Breast-feeding: Metformin is believed to pass into breast milk. This medication should not be used if you are breast-feeding.

Children: The safety and effectiveness of this medication have not been established for children.

What other drugs could interact with Glucophage?

There may be an interaction between metformin and any of the following:

  • ACE inhibitors
  • alcohol
  • amiloride
  • birth control pills
  • calcium channel-blocking medications
  • cimetidine
  • clofibrate
  • corticosteroids
  • diabetic drugs (such as glyburide)
  • digoxin
  • diuretics
  • estrogen
  • furosemide
  • iodinated contrast material
  • isoniazid
  • MAO inhibitors
  • morphine
  • nicotinic acid
  • nifedipine
  • phenothiazines
  • phenylbutazone
  • phenytoin
  • probenacid
  • procainamide
  • propranolol
  • quinidine
  • quinine
  • ranitidine
  • salicylates
  • sulfonamides
  • sympathomimetics
  • thiazide diuretics
  • thyroid products
  • triamterene
  • trimethoprim
  • vancomycin
  • warfarin

If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.

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