Given that most people take a generic form of Glucophage because of costs, combined with Paige’s bad experience with one type, I decided to add to her excellent research (thank you, Paige, with my apology for not having credited you properly!) and create a free-standing Metformin Thread.
Here’s what Paige came up with after searching the net for anecdotal information on several of the Metformin generics. Please remember that your experience may differ.
Heritage: Not a lot of data (there is now; see below)
Sandoz: Works (not for me, much; see below for why)
Teva: Does not work
Mylan: Does not work
The actual medication and the amount of it, metformin hydrochloride, is the same for brand name and generics. That’s required by law. The difference between performance then, are the fillers used to bind the medication into a pill, as well as any coatings. People can be so affected by the particular fillers used, that they may not be able to absorb much of the medication. This is apparently what happened when Armour ‘reformulated’ two years ago. That reformulation contained new fillers, and non-absorption complaints followed in massive numbers a month or so later.
Fillers matter. In fact, some of them, as you’ll see below, might kill you.
Extended Release Metformin is the worst form you can use. There isn’t a single manufacturer who doesn’t use fillers that make proper absorption difficult, and reports of digestive issues with it is legion. Furthermore, there is never a good reason to use it. Take regular Metformin and simply divide it up during the day or evening.
Caveat Emptor has never been so important as it is here.
I went hunting for filler information from every company I could find. Walmart “Mail Order” (as opposed to Walmart stores, whose warehouses — different than the mail order warehouses — currently use Sandoz) now uses Heritage, though that could change at any time. Walmart, like most chains, goes with the best price, not the best product. Maybe that doesn’t matter for a toy pail and shovel, but as you’ll soon learn it sure as hell matters for drugs. The mail order pharmacist gave me their number when I couldn’t find the filler information on the Heritage website. If you’re ever in doubt about a pill, call the manufacturer and ask for the Compliance Department. They are required by law to give you that information.
Turns out I needed it. Last year Walmart stores and mail order used Zydus, which worked wonderfully. A month or so ago I got my prescription renewed at the store and I haven’t done as well. When I looked at the label after Paige’s research, I discovered it was Sandoz, not Zydus, as I had incorrectly assumed. One glance at the fillers will tell you why: it’s loaded with stuff, and one ingredient in particular is very bad indeed.
Once I realized this, and saw that Glucophage and Zydus have very few fillers, I knew I wanted to take a pill with as few fillers as possible. Heritage meets the criteria, and I’ve ordered a refill from Walmart’s mail order, which charges the same $10 for a 90-day supply as a Walmart store, and throws in free to-your-door shipping as well. If it works as well as Zydus, the store pharmacy manager has agreed to give me a credit for my left-over Sandoz (which I’ll never take again; you’ll understand why below), which he’ll destroy.
With that, on to the filler information. First, let’s look at the brand name itself. Glucophage:
Bristol-Myers Squibb Company:
GLUCOPHAGE tablets contain 500 mg, 850 mg, or 1000 mg of metformin hydrochloride. Each tablet contains the inactive ingredients: povidone and magnesium stearate. [Note: just TWO fillers!] In addition, the coating for the 500 mg and 850 mg tablets contains hypromellose and the coating for the 1000 mg tablet contains hypromellose and polyethylene glycol.
Metformin hydrochloride tablets contain 500 mg, 850 mg and 1000 mg of metformin hydrochloride. In addition, each tablet contains the following inactive ingredients: crospovidone, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, maltodextrin, polyethylene glycol, povidone, stearic acid.
Apotex Generic Brand:
Each Metformin Hydrochloride Tablet, for oral administration, contains 500 mg, 850 mg or 1000 mg of metformin hydrochloride. In addition, each film-coated tablet also contains the following inactive ingredients: hydroxypropyl cellulose, hypromellose, magnesium stearate, methylcellulose, polyethylene glycol and titanium dioxide.
[Note: Danger, Will Robinson. Danger! Danger! What is Titanium Dioxide? A nanoparticle powder made of fine titanium bits. That’s right, a metal. But wait — it gets worse. From Natural News: “This is an ingredient for which no long-term safety testing on humans has ever been conducted. In fact, according to the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety, titanium dioxide may be a human carcinogen. As explained on the CCOHS website: (http://www.ccohs.ca/headlines/text186.html)
Titanium dioxide has recently been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as an IARC Group 2B carcinogen ”possibly carcinogen to humans”… This evidence showed that high concentrations of pigment-grade (powdered) and ultrafine titanium dioxide dust caused respiratory tract cancer in rats exposed by inhalation and intratracheal instillation.”
And: “Titanium dioxide is considered extremely unsafe by Vitacost, which banned the ingredient from its in-house supplements label (NSI). Soon, products from Vitacost may even be labeled with a “titanium dioxide free” claim to better educate consumers.”
Metformin hydrochloride tablets contain 500 mg, 850 mg, and 1000 mg of metformin hydrochloride. In addition, each tablet contains the following inactive ingredients: povidone and magnesium stearate. The coating for the 500 mg, 850 mg and 1000 mg tablets contains hydroxypropyl methylcellulose and polyethylene glycol. [Note: This is clearly a true Glucophage clone and I would take it if I could find it.]
Glenmark Generics Inc., USA:
Metformin hydrochloride tablets USP, for oral administration, contains 500 mg, 850 mg, or 1000 mg of metformin hydrochloride USP. Each tablet contains the inactive ingredients: microcrystalline cellulose, magnesium stearate and povidone. In addition, the coating for the 500 mg, 850 mg and 1000 mg tablets contains Opadry YS-1R-7006 Clear. The components of Opadry YS-1R-7006 Clear are hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, polyethylene glycol 400 and polyethylene glycol 6000.
Metformin hydrochloride tablets contain 500 mg or 850 mg or 1000 mg of metformin hydrochloride. Each tablet contains the inactive ingredients: hypromellose, magnesium stearate, polyethylene glycol, and binders povidone k30 & k90, and pregelatinized starch. [Note: This is what Walmart mail order is using, and is very close to Glucophage.]
Mutual Pharmaceutical Company:
Metformin hydrochloride tablets contain 500 mg, 850 mg, and 1000 mg of metformin hydrochloride. Each tablet contains the inactive ingredients carnauba wax, hypromellose, magnesium stearate, polydextrose, polyethylene glycol, povidone, titanium dioxide and triacetin.
Each metformin hydrochloride tablet contains 500 mg, 850 mg or 1000 mg metformin hydrochloride. Each tablet contains the inactive ingredients: colloidal silicon dioxide, corn starch, hypromellose, magnesium stearate, polyethylene glycol, polysorbate 80, povidone, sodium starch glycolate, and titanium dioxide.
TEVA Generic Brand:
Metformin Hydrocholoride tablets USP contain 500 mg, 850 mg, or 1000 mg of metformin hydrochloride. In addition, each tablet contains the following inactive ingredients: colloidal silicon dioxide, hypromellose, magnesium stearate, polyethylene glycol, povidone and titanium dioxide.
Metformin hydrochloride tablets contain 500 mg, 850 mg or 1000 mg of metformin hydrochloride. Each tablet contains the inactive ingredients magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose and povidone. In addition, the coating for each tablet contains hypromellose, lactose monohydrate, red iron oxide, titanium dioxide, triacetin, vanillin and yellow iron oxide.
Metformin hydrochloride tablets contain 500 mg or 850 mg or 1000 mg of metformin hydrochloride. Each tablet contains the inactive ingredients: hypromellose, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, polyethylene glycol and povidone.
This is one of the most depressing threads I’ve ever written. The good news is, I have a few more threads coming up in the next week or two which are even more depressing. I love a challenge. 😀
SugarFree — Fantastic post! I just checked my metformin: the manufacturer is Aurobindo, and they use povidone, magnesium stearate, hypromellose, and something called macrogol, which is polyethylene glycol. I wanted to include this for anyone else taking the Aurobindo version. They work great for me.
Depressing or not, truth be told!
You are awesome! Thanks for doing the dirty work!
Thanks for this! I called my pharmacy and they are using the Heritage brand, whew!
Exactly what I was looking for. Thanks a lot. You did a fantastic job! There is plenty of metformin are made in India, where the FDA issued many warnings to those companies for improper procedures.
Due to a change in my insurance, I’ve been prescribed a different metformin brand and have been miserable with GI issues, brain fog, tinnitus, muscle aches, headaches. My doctor met my complaints with indifference. I have started a low carb, no-dairy diet to see will provide relief. My pharmacy uses Aurobindo and I wonder if a change to another manufacture will help. Has anyone here done this and gotten better results?
Thanks for writing, Kris. Your problem is with the fillers in the generic you’re taking, not with dairy which, if full fat, is really good for you.
Get a new prescription from your doc, and instead of bringing it to your local pharmacy, open an account online with Walmart Home Delivery (NOT your local store!), and they will ship you a 3-month supply of HERITAGE metformin for only $10. NO INSURANCE REQUIRED. And the price includes shipping, too. Heritage contains the fewest fillers and is the closest to the expensive name brand. The difference in effectiveness is amazing.
Wow, thanks for the research! Tt doesn’t impact myself it does my mom, so I’m so going to check with her and see what manufacturer Express Scripts sends her. You know boys always worry about their moms and I’m for sure one of them.
Todd, my son is the same way. Thank goodness. 🙂
I read your “Metformin Manufacturer Information” and wow! It really opened my eyes. I ran to see what was on my bottle, and it is one of the bad ones. I will change immediately. You are providing such important information to us all. Thanks you.
Thank you for this list! While I’m quite new to taking metformin, after two weeks I was wondering why I wasn’t really seeing any impact from it. It’s Teva, so now I’m questioning if that is the reason. Though it may also be that I’m not taking enough yet or that it just hasn’t been long enough. At any rate, I’m going to switch to the Heritage brand and see what happens.
I wonder if anyone has done any research on the stomach upset issue and fillers? My doc kept warning me over and over about the stomach problems at first and to be patient and they’d go away. I’ve had NONE whatsoever, but I wonder if reactions are better/worse dependent upon the inactive ingredients. But I also eat a high fat/no sugar or wheat diet and so always take the pill with a meal containing fat and protein and wonder if that makes a difference. I’m happy at no upsets because I usually react to just about any medications with upset stomach issues.
Hi, Louise – thanks for writing. First, it is a good thing that you’re switching from Teva to Heritage. Second, you won’t see ANY results from Metformin until you’ve been on a FULL dose for at least a month, and maybe two. You don’t say what dose you’re on now and whether or not it is the full dose you eventually want to reach. And third, reactions vary widely. You may not be on a sufficiently high dose. You may not be absorbing much of the active ingredient because of the fillers in your current pill. And finally, you may be on a dose sufficiently high for you and absorbing all the metformin itself, and still not have any reactions. Many people don’t. It depends on your system. Your diet is a good one, providing you’re not eating too much protein and getting carbs from starch as well as veggies, but it doesn’t play a huge role in this. Only a SAD filled with lots of added processed sugar would.
THIS info helps put my mind at ease. The other is in “News you can Use” — about how long-term metformin use is implicated in cancer prevention. While I was the one who convinced my doc that I wanted to try metformin, I planned to ease off of it if/when my blood sugars and weight had normalized and stayed stable for a while. I will probably not do that now.
Poor doc, he was so puzzled as to why I wanted metformin since my blood sugars were “high, but within normal ranges.” I didn’t bother to explain, I just played the genetic card and described how my father died and grandmother went blind from Type II.
Thanks for the info on how long it can be before I see any results. Grrr > > > it’s so hard to be patient!
This blog is the best thing since sliced sugar-free, no nitrate, really smoked, organically grown pork ham! THANK YOU!
I read your new stuff whenever you write it. Your style is funny but informative, keep it up! There is always something important and interesting to learn from your posts. +++ Elise
My husband was taking the Aurobindo brand and it was doing nothing! Thanks for the info – just picked up the Zydus (Zygenerics) brand.
Bitti, glad I could help! 🙂
I had no problem on Amneal but Walgreen’s only had Mylan so I took it. A friend of mine and I are both experiencing GI issues on Mylan. I’m going back to Amneal and I sent your blog to my friend. Thanks for researching generic metformin. CVS only carries TEVA and that stuff should be illegal.
Corinne – glad I could help. 🙂
Hi SugarFree. I have just started reading your blog and have reached this page. I really enjoy reading what you have to say, and I find it eminently interesting, credible, and persuasive. Yes, glad to see there is science in what you recommend.
John, thanks for the kind words. 🙂
However, I see the comments about Titanium dioxide as being potentially carcinogenic. This surprised me as TiO2 is essentially a ceramic, a metal oxide, quite inert. Its main use is in pigmentation, as in white paint.
Actually, it’s in everything now, from supplements to toothpaste.
I can understand that inhalation might be problematic, but ingestion should not be any worse than iron oxide or calcium oxide, other common metal oxides. If you have any research studies which show other wise, I would be interested to know about this.
You can start here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3423755 — just type Titanium Dioxide, Carcinogen in any search engine. There’s now a ton of research; apparently the problem concerns the new TD02 Nanoparticles. Vitacost and other responsible merchants will no longer sell any product for consumer use that contains it, and rightly so.
I would be more concerned about the Polyethylene glycol, which is essentially toxic to humans. Polypropylene glycol is not. Polyethylene glycol is the main component of antifreeze for cars engines and other similar cooling system products.
Thanks for the great info!
Wow. This is fantastic sleuth work. Greatly appreciate the info on these Metformin manufacturers.
I was taking Heritage metformin but switched to Zydus, which made my blood sugar levels go up even though I didn’t change my eating or exercise habits. I switched back to Heritage and I am right back down to where I had been before. I’m sticking with Heritage.
Greta, thanks for writing. I’m not surprised to hear this – the fillers used in nearly all generics prevent the actual medication from being absorbed. Most of them are worse than useless. Walmart Home Delivery will send a 90-day Heritage metformin supply to your door for only $10 – how can you beat that? 🙂
SugarFree, thanks so much for the useful info! I don’t know about all of the fillers in all brands I’ve taken so far, but have done well on Amneal and Sun Pharm. Recently my pharmacy switched to TAGI brand, and I got very ill (nausea, diarrhea, overall tiredness). TAGI pills are about 15-20% larger than other brands, so no telling what fillers are there. My pharmacist is pretty good about ordering out when I request a specific brand, so I will try that first and will keep Walmart home delivery in mind as a backup.
Thanks for all the research. I was told I was diabetic the early part of 2017. I was prescribed Metformin ER 500mg Modified Tabs, three each morning. Had 1 refill left and Walgreens told me my co-pay would be around $1200 with my part D insurance. Got my doc to call in another prescription since Walgreens would not fill with another generic w/o new pres. Maker on first was Lupin and I had no problem. Second prescription was filled with generic from Amneal which I have taken for 3-4 days and my ears have rung and buzzed all day. Guess I will be contacting the doctor in morning for a new spript. This brand has much the same fillers as someone posted on another brand in above blog. Thanks again – Dale
I just read on the Heritage pharmaceutical website about Metformin ER and it clearly listed titanium dioxide as one of the fillers in it.
Lori, that’s correct. Just one of the many reasons I don’t recommend ER (extended release) for anyone. Thanks for writing!
I contacted Heritage Pharmaceutical today and there were only 3 fillers in their Metformin ER, hypromellose, magnesium stearate and povidone.
I have been taking the named brand, Glucophage ER 500 mg because I could not tolerate the fillers in metformin. Heritage is the closest to the named brand My problem is that I cannot find a pharmacy in the area I live in that uses Heritage. The majority of the pharmacy’s use Sun Pharmaceuticals. They use 7 fillers. Do you know if Walmart online still uses Heritage or can give me any info.
Walmart Home Delivery changes suppliers whenever a manufacturer offers them a better deal. Best thing to do is call just before sending a script, then click all the options to “speak to a pharmacist” – they can tell you what they have in stock.
If your insurance provider uses Optum home delivery, call them. Right now they’re carrying Heritage!
Are there any US Manufacturers of metformin (actually produced in th US)?
Sorry, Michael – none that I know of. The one I take – Heritage – is manufactured in India, and it works great for me, and others who take it.
Don’t let the Perfect be the enemy of Good. Better to take a brand that helps your medical condition, even if produced elsewhere, than to take nothing and let your illness progresd.