Dec 5, 2019

Global health regulators testing carcinogen levels of popular diabetes drug

Illustration of a magnifying glass inspecting a pill
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Health regulators around the world — including the FDA — are investigating whether metformin, a popular drug used to treat Type 2 diabetes, contains unsafe amounts of NDMA, a carcinogen, Bloomberg reports.

What they're saying: "The agency is in the beginning stages of testing metformin," an FDA spokesman told Bloomberg in a statement. "However, the agency has not confirmed if NDMA in metformin is above the acceptable daily intake (ADI) limit of 96 nanograms in the U.S."

  • The European Medicines Agency has also urged companies to test for high levels of NDMA in metformin.

Context: Concerns about NDMA have been increasing since it was found in blood pressure drugs and those containing ranitidine.

Yes, but: This news isn't necessarily bad, former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb told Axios.

  • "There's likely to be more reports of regulatory efforts to look for these risks, and perhaps additional findings," he said. "Because we're now more focused on mitigating these theoretical risks. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Our expectation of safety and our ability to control for it has increased."

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