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'Fishy Smell' May Keep Patients From Diabetes Drug
Date:2/15/2010

ound no reports.

Then they searched the Internet and found reports on hundreds of posts to message boards about the smell of metformin, and in an informal survey of pharmacists, several said they could easily identify metformin by its unique "old locker-room sweat sock" odor.

Bristol-Myers Squibb is one of a number of companies that manufacture metformin, and although the company won't comment on drugs made by others, a spokesman, Ken Dominski, released this statement on metformin's odor:

"Bristol-Myers Squibb is aware that the inherent characteristics of metformin have been associated with a mild odor upon opening of the bottle, so these type of reports are not unexpected. It's important to note there has been no correlation between an odor and the efficacy of metformin, which has been on the market in the U.S. since 1995."

"Patients actually put up with a lot of side effects and discomfort from medications, and most doctors would like to know that, because there are probably some underreported experiences with medications that we don't know about, and this may be one of them," said Dr. Elbert Huang, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. "As doctors, we can't take every medication, so we don't always understand what it's like. But, one thing is clear, if we make people miserable, we've defeated the purpose of the medication."

If the smell of metformin bothers you, Huang added, you shouldn't discontinue the medication, but you should definitely let your doctor know. A different formulation may be available to you.

One easy solution May proposed is simply to hold your nose while taking the drug.

More information

Learn more about oral diabetes medications from the American Diabetes Association.




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