Diabetes drugs being tested for carcinogens

Drugs commonly used to treat diabetes are being tested for unsafe levels of carcinogens by the FDA.

The FDA is looking into the drug, metformin, to test for nitrosamine impurity, N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA)––a probable human carcinogen that could cause cancer. NDMA was also recently found in trace amounts in Zantac, a heartburn drug, leading to a recall of the medication.

The FDA’s investigation into metformin, which helps control high blood sugar in patients with diabetes, has yet to determine if there are unsafe levels of NDMA.

“The agency is in the beginning stages of testing metformin; however, the agency has not confirmed if NDMA in metformin is above the acceptable daily intake (ADI) limit of 96 nanograms in the U.S.,” reads a statement by FDA spokesman Jeremy Kah. "These investigations take time. The FDA will communicate further information when we understand more of the situation and of what, if any, actions health care professionals and patients should take."

In addition, the agency stated those with diabetes who take metformin should not stop taking their medications as prescribed.

The investigation comes after some cardiology experts stated the Zantac recall and findings were likely just the “tip of the iceberg” for recalls over carcinogenic impurities.