Skip to main content

Have COVID-19 questions? Learn about testing and treatment. Or join our vaccine waiting lists.

Health library

Back to health library

Metformin recall: Is your medicine affected?

A person pours white tablets from a prescription bottle into their palm.

Nov. 2, 2020—If you take extended-release metformin for your type 2 diabetes, you should know that a recall of certain types of this drug has been underway since June.

Testing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found an impurity called N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) in some extended-release metformin tablets. Nitrosamine impurities like NDMA have been linked to an increased risk of cancer.

What is metformin?

Metformin is a prescription medicine that helps people with type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar.

What are nitrosamines?

Nitrosamines are impurities that are common in water and some foods. They've also been found in some prescription and over-the-counter medicines.

We are all exposed to low levels of nitrosamines. And in small amounts, they don't appear to cause any harm. The FDA believes that nitrosamines only increase the risk of cancer if taken in significant amounts over a long period of time.

How do I know if my medicine is affected?

This recall only affects extended-release metformin. No NDMA has been found in any immediate-release form of the drug.

To find out whether the drug you take has been recalled, you can search the FDA database of metformin products. Type the name of your drug's manufacturer in the search box. More forms of metformin have been added to the recall since June. So it's a good idea to recheck the recall list from time to time.

What should I do if my metformin is being recalled?

Most important: If your metformin drug is being recalled, do not stop taking it before talking with your doctor. It could be dangerous for a person with type 2 diabetes to stop taking their medicine. Instead, ask your doctor to prescribe a replacement or a different treatment option.

You can then return your unused metformin to your pharmacy when you go to pick up your new prescription.

Read more breaking news Related stories