A research team at Seoul National University College of Medicine has recently verified the safety and efficacy of metformin, a diabetes treatment, in diabetic nephropathy patients, and published it in Diabetics Care, an international journal.
|Professor Lee Jeong-pyo|
The prevalence of chronic renal failure is increasing not only in Korea but also worldwide. According to the Korean Society of Nephrology reported that the estimated number of chronic renal failure patients in Korea totaled about 4.6 million in 2019, and the number of patients is increasing at an annual average rate of about 8.7 percent.
The leading cause of chronic renal failure is diabetic nephropathy caused by diabetes, and attention is now on the treatment of the disease as there are only a limited number of drugs available for treating diabetic nephropathy patients. Metformin has been the most commonly used diabetes drug over the past 60 years.
Although it is heap priced at 50 won (4 U.S. cents) per pill, the medicine is regaining interests as a substance that can prevent senile diseases such as cancer, heart disease, dementia, and blood sugar control, significantly extending patients’ life expectancy.
The American Diabetes Association and the Korean Society for Endocrinology recommend metformin as an initial treatment for diabetes. As the drug may increase the prevalence of fatal lactic acidosis in patients with chronic renal failure, however, the groups have banned the pill in patients with chronic renal failure of stage 3 or higher. Despite such limitations, there have been continued discussions suggesting that metformin treatment does not increase lactic acidosis compared to other diabetic drugs even in patients with chronic renal failure.
The SUU research team, led by Professor Lee Jeong-pyo, analyzed the dosing records of 10,426 diabetic renal failure patients at Seoul National University Hospital and Boramae Medical Center and found that metformin treatment was also effective in treating the disease and lowering the mortality rate in chronic stage 3B renal failure patients.
Also, the team discovered that metformin administration is safe in patients with chronic renal failure, as dosing with metformin did not increase the prevalence of lactic acidosis compared to other diabetes drugs.
“Although this study may require additional prospective studies, we believe that the study has opened up the possibility for metformin, an inexpensive and effective drug for the development of cardiovascular diseases, in treating diabetic chronic renal failure patients, too,” the team said.
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