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04-08-2011 | Gynaecology | Article

Metformin use in non-diabetics increasing


Free abstract

MedWire News: UK researchers report an increase in the rate of metformin prescriptions issued to children and adolescents over the past 10 years.

Furthermore, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) appears to be a more common indication for prescription of the drug than is diabetes, say the investigators in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.

Yingfen Hsia, from The School of Pharmacy in London, and team analysed prescribing data documented in the UK IMS Disease Analyzer from 2000 through 2010. They found that 337 individuals were issued with a prescription for metformin during that time period and 80% of these recipients were female.

The overall rate of metformin prescribing rose more than fivefold, from 0.03 per 1000 person-years at study-start to 0.16 per 1000 person-years at the end of the study. The greatest increase (3.4-fold increase) in metformin prescription occurred among girls aged 16-18 years compared with any other age group.

No individual under the age of 2 years was prescribed metformin.

The team notes that among 290 patients treated with metformin, PCOS was the documented reason for the prescription in 120 patients, diabetes in 114 patients, and obesity in 22 patients.

The researchers say that although a small proportion of patients in the study received metformin for obesity management, this trend is likely to increase in the near future. This, they suggest, is due to the current lack of pharmaceutical options for the treatment of obesity.

Hsia and team conclude: "There is an increased number of teenage girls receiving metformin for PCOS treatment in general practice.

"As metformin is not licensed for PCOS and obesity treatment in the pediatric population, further studies are required to investigate its long-term efficacy and safety for these conditions."

By Lauretta Ihonor

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