Type 2 diabetes medication recalled for possible cancer risk

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The FDA is calling on several manufacturers of the drug Metformin to recall the commonly prescribed diabetes drug because of a cancer risk.

Harrold’s Pharmacy and other U.S. pharmacies have been filling prescriptions for Metformin since 1995. Now some versions of the drug are under recall because excessive levels of the chemical NDMA in extended release versions of Metformin could increase the risk of cancer. 

“Metformin is one of the most popular anti-diabetic medications prescribed. So, we see a lot of it going out the door here,” Bruce Lefkowitz, pharmacist and owner of Harrold’s Pharmacy.

Joe Powell took Metformin years ago for his Type 2 diabetes to reduce his blood sugar levels and improve his body’s response to insulin. He says he isn’t surprised by the recall.

“Once we get ourselves to the point where we need to take a medication on a daily basis or somewhat of a regular basis, we’re going to have that problem because there are risk factors with all medications,” Powell said.

Until now, Metformin has had the reputation of being a safe, effective and affordable oral medication. Experts say it still can be if prescribed a sustained release version of the drug and not extended release.

“I think the biggest take-home right now is for patients not to stop the medicine,” Lefkowitz said. “It would be more dangerous to stop the medicine than to stay on it.”

You can contact your pharmacy where you had your Metformin filled to return the tablets. You should also contact your doctor to discuss any changes you should make to your medication.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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