Topical Metformin: A Solution for Medicinal Side Effects
- 15 December 2020
Diabetes May Be the Most Common Long-Term Ailment Affecting Americans
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 34 million Americans have diabetes or about one out of every 10 people, and the vast majority of those (90-95 percent) have type 2 diabetes. In addition, 84 million more adults have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, a condition where your blood sugar levels are higher than normal and indicate a trend that could develop into a full diabetes diagnosis. Treatment for type 2 diabetes, and pre-diabetes, centers around dedicated exercise and dieting routines, plus pharmaceutical solutions most notably in the form of Metformin.
And Metformin has been effective in treating type 2 or adult-onset diabetes. The medicine is acknowledged as an essential, front-line tool in treatment and has helped millions manage their condition. It remains the most effective, and affordable, medicinal option in addressing the condition.
But there are prevalent and well-known side effects that come with taking Metformin orally. The most common include many assorted conditions affecting the gastrointestinal tract such as nausea, diarrhea, bloating, or vomiting. Other gastrointestinal distress, such as flatulence, is also common especially early in treatment.
At least one in three patients prescribed Metformin encounter some of these side effects. A 2017 study from the Journal of Research in Pharmacy Practice found that more than half of all patients prescribed Metformin have experienced some of the known side effects, which in turn led to more than five percent of patients to suspend, or end, the medicinal treatment altogether.
Left unchecked, blood sugar issues associated with type 2 diabetes will lead to a host of serious medical issues eventually.
Topical Metformin and TMT Can Alleviate Side Effects
Fortunately, recent developments in topical treatment options have offered patients a new path toward receiving the benefits of Metformin without the complications that come from taking the medicine orally.
Transdermal Metformin Therapy (TMT) is a novel delivery method of the drug that can provide the same benefits of the medication taken orally, while also cutting back — or eliminating — the side effects often seen with oral administration.
How TMT works is relatively straight-forward. Metformin is worked into a topical substance, such as a cream or ointment, that is applied directly to the skin twice a day. This topical medication, usually applied to the inside of the wrist or thigh, pushes Metformin into the body through the skin where it absorbed into the bloodstream. The process bypasses the gastrointestinal tract altogether.
There are three primary potential benefits for patients who use this delivery method. First, studies have shown that by working the medication into the bloodstream via the skin many patients are able to avoid the well-documented side effects associated with Metformin. Keeping the medication from interacting directly with the gastrointestinal track dramatically cuts down on the GI issues associated with the medication.
Secondly, by applying the medication to the skin patients can still treat their condition but at a much lower dosage. Typically, patients only need to take a transdermal dosage equal to just 10 percent of their oral dosage. So, if you’re prescribed a 500mg tablet twice a day, the transdermal dosage would only be 50mg twice per day.
And lastly, there will be no large pills to swallow. At larger dosages, such as 1,000mg twice a day, the size of the tablet can be difficult to handle for many patients. With TMT, the size of the dosage won’t impact the ability of the patient to ingest the medication.
Compounding Pharmacies Are a Must for TMT
Topical Metformin is still a relatively new treatment option. You likely won’t be prescribed such an ointment by your medical professional immediately, and it’s not the preferred delivery method for the medication used by pharmaceutical companies.
This is where your local, established compounding pharmacy can help. Compounding is the creation of a pharmaceutical preparation by a licensed pharmacist to meet the unique needs of an individual patient when a commercially available drug does not meet those needs.
Compounding pharmacies can customize the strength or dosage of a prescription into a more easily taken form, or reformulate a drug to exclude an unwanted, nonessential ingredient. In Metformin’s case, compounding is the process of changing the form of medication for patients who have difficulty swallowing the prescribed tablets/pills or dealing with known side effects of taking it orally.
A good compounding pharmacy will be able to take your existing Metformin prescription and translate it into a topical metformin solution that will allow you to more easily adhere to your treatment plan.
Contact Us for All Your Pharmaceutical Needs
Lakeview Pharmacy has served the Racine, Wis. area for nearly half a century in a variety of ways, both old and new. Whether it is exploring new techniques for applying medications you’ve taken for years, setting up long-term care options, or offering new solutions to old problems, our staff of experienced pharmacists will provide the personal service and attention you need to find your way through a complicated health care landscape.