24 February, 2015



It is said that our brains are more receptive to information in the mornings. Like everybody else I was scanning through the news paper today morning and came across a article titled “POPULARDIABETES DRUG CAN CAUSE SIDE EFFECTS: STUDY”. By instinct went through the details and to my horror it was about “Metformin”. The side effects mentioned the article related to Vitamin B12 deficiency. This is a classical case of “OLD WINE IN A NEW BOTTLE” Vitamin B12 deficiency on prolonged use of Metformin has been known since ages and it forms the basis of adding multivitamins in the Diabetes treatment schedule.

When reading this article I felt the leading news papers should be more careful while reporting such sensitive issues of public importance. I do agree that it is a reporter’s duty to present the facts as such for people to decide but in certain places I think it is not justified.

Here is what I feel...

As per estimates Chennai has a population of 47, 92,949.

Recent study says that nearly 40 % of people in Chennai are diabetics so it means 19, 17,180 people in Chennai are living with diabetes. I am very sure that atleast 80% of these people will be on one or the other formulations containing metformin.

The article says “intake of metformin further reduces absorption of vitamin b12. A prolonged B12 deficiency can cause mental disabilities, slowness and forgetfulness”

I would like to explain that there are humpty numbers of causes for the above mentioned symptoms. How is the print media justified in pointing out such non specific symptoms and creating a panic among this many number of people?

Diabetologists are well aware of the fact that patients on long term metformin need Vitamin B12 supplementation. The benefits of metformin are way better compared to this easily manageable side effect of a wonderful drug. Metformin has many more advantages. It is being extensively used where insulin resistance is high. It is used in lakhs of patients with Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOD/PCOS). Recent studies also say that metformin may be beneficial in Breast cancer
            The numbers I have mentioned is only in one city. Think about the numbers all over India. This one article had taken away the sleep of crores of people across India. In resource poor countries like India with ever growing medical bill, Metformin is the mainstay in the treatment of Diabetes. This drug has stood the test of time and we are still finding use for this drug in various other conditions. Minor side effects can be easily managed with supplementation and do not warrant space in print media.

I hope and request all those friends in media to screen the articles better. Please refrain form creating panic. “BAD NEWS SELLS BEST” but it should not be at the cost of someone’s mental peace. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to Comment!!