From Prescription to Pause: Why Do Doctors No Longer Prescribe Metformin

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Written By Rocky Horton

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For years, millions of diabetes patients have relied on Metformin to control their blood sugar levels. Metformin belongs to the biguanide class of drugs, which lower blood sugar by altering liver activity and helping muscles absorb excess glucose.

Metformin has remained a go-to prescription for doctors who treat diabetes patients. However, recent FDA studies have given them pause due to emerging evidence that Metformin may pose long-term risks, particularly to patients with impaired kidney functions.

Many diabetes patients wondering why doctors no longer prescribe Metformin should be better informed about its changing FDA approval status and potential complications from taking it.

In this article, we break down Metformin’s effectiveness as a diabetes treatment by exploring its benefits, potential side effects, and alternative uses. Remember to speak with your healthcare provider before changing your medication or trying alternative therapies to manage your diabetes.

What is Metformin?

Metformin improves the body’s response to insulin, which can prevent the severe complications of uncontrolled diabetes. These include neuropathy, blindness, kidney damage, and even loss of limb. Other positive effects have been reported, including increased heart health and lower cancer risks.

These benefits have given Metformin a reputation as a “wonder drug” over the years. Millions of prescriptions are written every year for patients with diabetes. But Metformin affects more than a person’s glucose levels. Healthcare providers and patients should be made aware of the full scope of its potential effects.

Initial findings suggest that Metformin may pose greater benefit than risk to many diabetes sufferers. However, the long-term impact of taking Metformin is still under investigation, leading to an evolving opinion among healthcare providers about its effectiveness and highlighting the need for personalized solutions to each patient’s diabetes management.

Side effects of taking Metformin

Taking Metformin can produce some common effects such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, muscle cramps, back pain, coughing, difficulty urinating, and shallow breathing. Less common side effects include headaches, anxiety, depression, blurred vision, nausea, dizziness, or a metallic taste in the mouth.

In rare cases, Metformin can cause a serious condition called lactic acidosis, especially in patients with pre-existing conditions. As many of these symptoms can overlap with other conditions, patients should speak with their healthcare providers about whether Metformin is still right for them.

Another thing for patients to consider is Metformin’s potential to interact with their other conditions or medications. Certain combinations can lead to adverse reactions that healthcare providers and patients should be aware of when evaluating whether the good outweighs the bad.

Metformin’s potential for these serious interactions and rare side effects is the main reason why doctors no longer prescribe Metformin. Therefore, doctors should educate their patients on its potential long-term effects before prescribing it.

Patient Education

Patient education allows providers to personalize diabetes treatment plans for each person. This education should factor in the FDA’s evolving research on Metformin, particularly for patients with impaired kidney function.

For those patients, the FDA has revised its safety warnings regarding the prescription of Metformin in the long term. Healthcare providers have a responsibility to align their prescriptions to the current conclusions of these studies to keep their patients safe and well-educated about their health status.

For many, this new information has warranted a pause on the prescriptions of Metformin until more research has been conducted. By informing their patients about the potential side effects and interactions, providers can make diabetes management a collaborative process that ensures the involvement of the patient in decisions that directly affect their health.

Discontinuation of Metformin

Many patients should consider discontinuing their use of Metformin with the help of their healthcare provider. Due to its potential interactions with pre-existing conditions and the possibility of triggering new ones, Metformin may no longer be the go-to solution for diabetes management.

For those who need to discontinue using the drug, your provider will do so slowly to avoid the complications of abruptly stopping, which can include a sharp rise in blood sugar. These risks indicate a need for open communication between patients and providers regarding the safest way to discontinue the drug.

Despite this caution, Metformin may still be the best solution to many patients’ diabetes management concerns. Just by asking providers “why doctors no longer prescribe Metformin,” patients can start a dialogue that leads to a better risk/reward assessment of continuing to use Metformin.

Coordinated communication and consistent monitoring are the two most important parts of discontinuing your use of Metformin. Doctors will likely want to monitor you for adverse effects while reviewing possible alternative medications and therapies to help you maintain your blood sugar levels in the future.

Alternatives to Metformin

Concerned patients should consider alternative options to Metformin if they and their provider have decided that it’s not worth the risk to keep taking it. Thankfully, other medications can be used to manage blood sugar levels. Each has its own potential benefits and side effects, so these options are best discussed with your provider to learn whether alternatives could be more effective in your case.

Additionally, many herbal remedies are gaining popularity as possible alternative therapies for blood sugar management. These include turmeric, cinnamon, aloe vera, fenugreek, ginger, and more. While these herbs have been shown to be effective in limited trials, they are not as well-regulated as medications.

Always speak with your provider before initiating new therapies for diabetes control. Herbs may be natural, but they can still interact with pre-existing conditions and medications in adverse ways.


New information surrounding the question of why doctors no longer prescribe Metformin has led many patients and providers to re-evaluate its effectiveness. It will likely remain a hallmark of diabetes management despite new studies, but many are seeking alternative therapies for themselves and their patients.

Metformin remains an effective drug for some people, despite caveats about its long-term side effects and its newly discovered impact on people with impaired kidney function. This is why understanding the proper use of Metformin, including its potential side effects and alternatives, will help patients find the best diabetes management plan for their situation.

Rocky Horton

Rocky Horton


Rocky Horton is a health and safety expert from Chapel Hill, NC. He is the founder of AccidentAdvisor and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg, and other publications. Learn more.