Glucophage is a treatment used to help those with diabetes control their blood sugar levels. It is available in three forms: as a standard tablet; a powder which is made up into a drinkable solution; and as a slow-release tablet. The drug contains an agent called metformin, which is a type of antidiabetic called a biguanide, and helps the body to produce and utilise insulin. In the UK, you will need a prescription in order to be able to buy Glucophage from a pharmacy. This will need to be issued by a practising doctor.
- Available as a tablet or powder
- Slow release capsules also sold
- Effective at helping diabetes management
Type 2 diabetes accounts for an estimated 90 per cent of all cases of diabetes in the UK, which is thought to total over 3 million. It is characterised by an inability to produce amounts of insulin adequate enough to manage high blood sugar levels; or a failure by cells in the body to sufficiently extract glucose from the blood. This can cause various symptoms, but the most common among these are: dryness in the eyes, leading to sight problems; urinary urgency or an increased need to go to the toilet; and feelings of tiredness.
Numerous risk factors can contribute towards type 2 diabetes which, unlike type 1 diabetes (an autoimmune condition which develops early on in life) is more likely to occur the older a person gets. These include being overweight, and eating an unhealthy diet. People from certain ethnic backgrounds, such as those who are of South Asian or Chinese origin, or Black African or Caribbean descent, are also more likely to develop the condition.
It is important to seek treatment for diabetes as early as possible as it is progressive in nature. Complications which can arise from the condition include heart disease, kidney failure and nerve damage. During earlier stages, a doctor may suggest taking a number of non-medicinal approaches in order to get blood sugar levels under control. These include stopping smoking and lowering alcohol intake, and losing weight; they may advise adopting a specific diet, which might be accompanied by a balanced programme of exercise.
At a certain stage however, treatment may be required to help manage the illness. The active constituent of Glucophage is metformin, which is a type of drug called a biguanide. It works in three ways to help keep blood sugar levels in check: by reducing the amount of glucose produced by the liver; by increasing the body’s muscular cell receptiveness to insulin, thereby enabling more sugar to be extracted from the blood; and by inhibiting the absorption of sugars from food through the intestine.
Merck Serono is the company which manufactures all three forms of Glucophage, and markets them for purchase in the UK.
We do not sell this medicine on our site. To be prescribed Glucophage, speak to your GP.
Take care to follow the directions issued by your prescriber when using this treatment, and to read the instructions in the patient information leaflet. This will help to maximise the efficacy of the medication and lower the risk of associated side effects.
- Use as prescribed.
For the regular tablets:
- A typical dose is two or three tablets per day. Space the doses out accordingly.
- The maximum daily dose is 3000mg, taken as separate administrations.
- It is best to take them after a meal.
- Swallow whole with water.
For the powder:
- The standard dose in most cases is 500mg or 850mg, two to three times a day. The maximum daily dose is 3000mg.
- Glucophage powder should be taken with or after a meal to aid digestion.
- Dispel the contents of the sachet or the desired amount into a glass, and add 150ml of water. Stir if necessary so that you have a mildly cloudy liquid.
- The solution should be consumed immediately following preparation.
For the slow release tablets:
- Your course may begin with one 500mg tablet a day.
- Once you have been using the treatment for 2 weeks, the dose may be increased.
- The maximum daily dose is 2000mg.
- In most cases the tablets are taken once a day, usually with your evening meal. Sometimes, you may be required to split your administration up into two daily doses. In this instance, you should still take your tablets with food.
For all versions:
- Do not take more than the amount specified by your prescriber.
- If you miss a dose, do not compensate with a double dose. Where possible, try to take your missed dose when you remember. If this is not possible, simply skip the one you have missed and take your next dose at the scheduled time.
This is not a complete list of the directions you will need to follow when taking this treatment. For more detailed instructions, consult the leaflet provided.
If you get any side effects whatsoever, you should let your doctor know. Those who experience any signs of the following should seek medical attention immediately: lactic acidosis, such as being sick, abdominal pain, muscle cramps, tiredness, and difficulty breathing; reduced liver function or hepatitis, such as jaundice; or an allergic reaction, including severe skin reactions or swelling of the face, lips, tongue or throat.
Common side effects (1 in 10 people or less):
Taste disturbance, feeling or being sick.
Very rare (1 in 10,000 people or less):
Skin reactions such as erythema, itching or hives, or drop in vitamin B12 levels in the blood.
Glucophage tablets and SR tablets:
Very common (1 in 10 people or more):
Digestive problems, feeling or being sick, diarrhoea, pain in the abdomen or loss of appetite.
Common (1 in 10 people or less):
Very rare (1 in 10,000 people or less):
Lactic acidosis, hepatitis, skin reactions, or low vitamin B12 levels in the blood.
The above is not a complete list of the side effects associated with these items. For more information, refer to the respective leaflet for each product.
Taking it with other medicines
Let your prescriber know if you are using any other treatments. The following may affect the function of this drug: beta-2 agonists; diuretics; corticosteroids; other antidiabetics; or sympathomimetic medicines used to treat heart attacks and low blood pressure.
It is also necessary to let your doctor know if you are about to have any tests which use contrast dyes, or surgery under anaesthetic, as these may also interact with this treatment.
Conditions to look out for
Do not take Glucophage if you have: an allergy to any of the components used in it; liver or kidney problems; uncontrolled diabetes; ketoacidosis; dehydration; a severe infection; recently had a heart attack, heart failure or severe circulatory problems; or if you drink a lot of alcohol.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Do not take Glucophage if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. If you are trying to become pregnant, speak to your doctor.
Driving and using machinery
If you experience dizziness or anything which might affect your concentration while taking this medication, do not drive or operate machines.
Food, drink and alcohol
Consuming alcohol in large amounts may increase the risk of lactic acidosis, and should therefore be avoided.
Consult the leaflet supplied for more detailed information on lactic acidosis before taking this treatment.
Can I still drink alcohol?
Excessive consumption of alcohol is not safe for those taking this medication, as it may increase the risk of certain side effects.
Will I still be able to drive?
Yes, but only if you know that it will not cause any side effects which could make driving difficult or unsafe. If you get any side effects, do not drive and let your doctor know.
Can I take the medicine while pregnant?
It is not suitable for use during pregnancy or breastfeeding. In these cases, you will need to consult with your doctor so that they can arrange the appropriate treatment.
How should I store it?
These treatments should be kept in a safe place out of the reach of children and at room temperature.
Am I allergic to anything in the medicine?
The powder contains: metformin hydrochloride, acesulfame potassium, aspartame (E951), citric acid anhydrous, erythritol, maize starch, and pullulan PI-20.
Glucophage tablets consist of: metformin hydrochloride, povidone K 30, magnesium stearate, and hypromellose.
The prolonged-release tablets contain: metformin hydrochloride, magnesium stearate, carmellose sodium and hypromellose.
Do not use these treatments if you are allergic to any of these ingredients.
Is it available over-the-counter?
You will need a prescription to be able to buy Glucophage from a UK pharmacy. This is so that a doctor can make sure it is suitable.
Is it right for me?
Your regular doctor or specialist will determine which treatment is the most beneficial for you during your periodic diabetes review.
Please note that we do not offer this item via our pharmacy service. See your GP to be prescribed Glucophage.
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