The Director General of Health, Leausa Dr Take Naseri has clarified that the recall of extended release Metformin ER does not affect the tablets available to patients in Samoa.
Metformin is an oral tablet used to treat high blood sugar levels caused by type 2 diabetes which affects 26% of Samoan men and women.
The Metformin oral tablet comes in two forms: the regular form known as immediate-release and the extended-release form, Metformin ER.
In recent months there have been several voluntary recalls of extended release (ER) Metformin by major pharmaceutical companies including Apotex Inc., JAMP Pharma Corporation, Ranbax Inc., Lupin Pharmaceuticals and others.
The US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) have alerted patients and health care professionals to the voluntary recalls by pharma makers of their extended-release metformin tablets due to high levels of the carcinogenic ingredient N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA).
Responding to questions from Samoa Global News, the Director General of Health says Samoa should be fine as it does not import the extended release form of the tablet.
“We DO NOT procure the ER (extended release) type of the Metformin brand (or Metformin Hydrochloride) that is mainly prescribed for our Type 2 Diabetes patients;
“We only procure the conventional tablet (or immediate release) type from the APOTEX NZ LTD Manufacturer”, said Leausa.
The Director General of Health further assured that all local pharmacies also stock the immediate release, and not the extended release form.
“This is the same formulation sold in the private pharmacies; we have just finished calling them and confirmed that they only stock the conventional tablet,” assures Leausa.
The Director General further assures, “This is approved by the NZ Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority (MEDSAFE)”.
There have been recent posts being shared on facebook and social media warning about the side effects of metformin, with claims that “it may encourage the onset of dementia” and adding:
“FYI: Metformin currently has a recall on its product. THE STRUGGLE IS REAL.”
However, Leausa advised that it is dangerous for Type 2 diabetes patients who have been prescribed Metformin, to stop taking their tablets without consulting their health care professional.