The metformin recalls that have plagued the diabetes drug industry for the past year continue as yet another company’s formulation of the drug has tested positive for a human carcinogen.
The debacle started in 2020 when lots of metformin from Teva Pharmaceuticals and Sun Pharmaceuticals both tested positive for NDMA, or N-Nitrosodimethylamine. The compound is believed to have ties to variety of types of cancer and the discovery was enough to trigger recalls of metformin from both companies. Lots of metformin from Nostrum Laboratories were next to be recalled after NDMA was discovered in their drug as well.
It has been months since then, however, metformin recalls are once again back in the news as two lots of 750mg tablets manufactured by Viola Pharmaceuticals were ordered pulled from pharmacy shelves over concerns of contamination with NDMA.
The recalls repeat the advice given during previous recalls of diabetes drugs which specify that the patient continues taking the medication until a suitable replacement can be found in consultation with their medical provider. In fact, doctors have noted in the past that carcinogens, or compounds known to cause cancer, are encountered by humans every day. In fact, many of them, like those found in barbequed meats, bacon, cheese, and other foods are things we actively seek out. The question is not so much one of whether the compound can be damaging, but how much of the compound is ingested. As said by one medical professional, “Don’t panic. Just have a nice discussion with your provider. And make sure that if the medication’s the only thing that’s controlling your disease, don’t stop it. Just go in and ask and say, ‘what are my alternatives?’”