Molecule of the Day

Metformin is about as simple as a drug gets:


It’s an antidiabetic drug that diminishes the amount of glucose generated in the liver. There aren’t many oral antidiabetic drugs, and there are loads and loads of diabetics out there, so Americans use it by the bucket.


  1. #1 Rick Quarton
    November 10, 2008

    Mmm… I think I’ve used a bucket or two of this stuff. Had no idea it was so simple. I would have thought long convoluted chains of god-knows-what.

  2. #2 scicurious
    November 10, 2008

    Awww, but you left out the side effect of explosive diarrhea…

  3. #3 speedwell
    November 10, 2008

    Thanks! My brother and I started on this medication last month. I like it; he doesn’t. Appreciate the insight about how it works.

  4. #4 Mo Hassan
    November 11, 2008

    I got the worst side-effects from taking Metformin a few years back, migraine, constant nausea and skin rashes being the worst. Amazing to see it is such a simple molecule!

  5. #5 kirsten
    November 11, 2008

    Yeah, well a worse side effect would be lactic acidosis, much more common with phenformin. Don’t take this med if you’ve got kidney problems, and be sure to stop taking it if you’re having surgery.

  6. #6 Dave
    November 11, 2008

    Wow, look at all those Nitrogens in there. How long before someone starts adding it to animal feed to boost the protein assays? 😉


  7. #7 Uncle Al
    November 11, 2008

    Cu(II) and NI(II) chelates are surprisingly lightly colored. Does it polynitrate to something exciting?

  8. #8 DTL
    November 16, 2008

    Look at all that nitrogen. Since it doesn’t contain N-N or N-O bonding, it looks pretty stable. I don’t know about imines, but amines aren’t gonna blow up any time soon.

  9. #9 mindlesley
    November 28, 2008

    Simple organic compounds dont equate to good ones necessarily.
    Tho’ metformin increased my sensitivity to insulin for years until kidney failure and pending lactic acidosis made me cease use.
    Now am living on HOME hemodialysis very happily and am swimming 1500m/day in order to stay fit for a possible kidney transplant.
    Very happy to be doing this procedure myself at home. Never trust a nurse (or a Dr. for that matter) with a needle, they can’t feel when they’re doing you damage. And best for avoiding hospital/clinic borne super bugs.
    Happy pill analysis, Mindlesley.

  10. #10 Bob
    December 2, 2008

    Avoid metformin like the plague, it has lousy side effects and doesn’t really solve the problem. It tends to be prescribed in the UK as first choice because presumably it is the cheapest. Damn nearly killed someone close to me before the stupid medic would admit it wasn’t doing any good – understatement of the decade!

    I think if you look it up the original clinical trials conducted in the USA killed a few people, so I am surprised it is still being used over there. Mind you, that is probably why it is being prescribed in the UK

  11. #11 Jasmin
    December 30, 2008

    Hi guys,well I was just put on this medication last week,and good god am hurling like a baby,I was put on the med,cause of my constant wait gain,even with diet and work out I gaint 11 pounds in 2 weeks ( not normal) but wow I only have that one sideeffect and its kicken my butt,u guys have any tips,on how to decrease those symptoms?

  12. #12 root-two
    January 14, 2009

    Well, having stuff firing out of both ends is one of the more interesting side effects of metformin (that’s how you know it’s a proper medicine, right?) but I only ever got it when I changed dosage – give it a couple of weeks, it all goes away.

    I’m taking metformin daily for type 2 diabetes and that, plus exercise, has lowered my HbA1(c) from around 11%(!) when I was first diagnosed to around 6.5% now. Works for me.

    Different folks react to medications in different ways, but IMO this simple molecule is doing an awful lot of good.

New comments have been disabled.