Glucophage is a slow-release medicine used to treat type 2 diabetes. It is part of the biguanide group of medicines which prevent the liver from producing glucose. Usually, the body holds the correct amount of glucose it needs as the pancreas makes insulin which regulates the glucose. More information

A doctor will review your order and write you a prescription, if appropriate. This prescription is then forwarded to a pharmacy. The pharmacy will have your medicine delivered to you within one to three working days. Read more about this process here.

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Glucophage is a medicine used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes which occurs when the body’s levels of blood sugar (glucose*) are high. Glucophage is a trade name for a form of metformin chloride. This medicine treats the symptoms of type 2 diabetes and can help the prevention of it for people who are at risk of developing this disease.  

What is Glucophage? 

Glucophage is a slow-release medicine used to treat type 2 diabetes. It is part of the biguanide group of medicines which prevent the liver from producing glucose. Usually, the body holds the correct amount of glucose it needs as the pancreas makes insulin which regulates the glucose. The pancreas constantly monitors glucose levels in the blood. If levels rise the pancreas releases insulin into the blood to counteract this. However, if a person has type 2 diabetes their body cannot correctly process the amount of insulin it produces naturally and too little is produced. There is also a linked condition known as insulin resistance when the body does not respond to insulin correctly.   

Type 2 diabetes can effect the body in two ways: 

  • Short term: dehydration, excessive thirst, feeling very hungry, blurred vision, frequent urination and fatigue. 
  • Long term: problems with the heart, stroke, eyes and nerves. 

There is a risk of developing type 2 diabetes if you: 

  • Have a family history of type 2 diabetes 
  • Are overweight or obese 
  • Have slightly high blood sugar levels (prediabetes) 
  • Have had diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes) 
  • Have had a baby weighing over 9 pounds 
  • Carry a lot of fat around your stomach area 
  • Are aged over 45 
  • Do little or no exercise 
  • Have polycystic ovarian syndrome 

This disease can take several years to present and many people don´t realise they have it. Type 2 diabetes is a condition that can be managed with Glucophage, a healthy diet, not eating sugary or processed foods and regular exercise. Once you have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes you are likely to have the condition for the rest of your life but it can be managed effectively. 

Sometimes Glucophage is also used to treat polycystic ovary symptom (PCOS), which affects the performance of the ovaries. When women have this syndrome they often have high levels of insulin and the body can become resistant to it. Therefore Glucophage can be used to reduce insulin levels in women with PCOS. 

When is Glucophage used? 

Glucophage is used to treat type 2 diabetes by controlling blood sugar levels. It reduces the amount of sugar the liver releases into the blood and helps the body manage its insulin levels. Insulin ensures the body has the right sugar levels in the blood. Sometimes the onset of type 2 diabetes can be prevented by eating a healthy diet and doing plenty of exercise. This is especially important for people who know they are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, commonly for genetic reasons or because they are overweight. However, if healthy eating and exercise are not a sufficient treatment plan then Glucophage can help treat type 2 diabetes. It is important to follow the advice of a doctor for a total treatment process if you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. 

Glucophage is usually given to adults with type 2 diabetes, however, in some cases, it is prescribed to children aged 10 or over.  

How do you use Glucophage? 

You take Glucophage orally with plenty of water and with or after food. This helps prevent the occurrence of stomach problems as your body adjusts to the medicine. You should not chew the tablets but swallow them whole. The usual starting dose is 500mg as there may be side effects such as an upset stomach, to begin with. After taking the initial dose for 2 weeks you should have another blood sugar test to see how your body has reacted to the Glucophage. Your doctor should then decide if the dose needs to be increased. If this is the case the dose may be increased slowly over a period of time to allow your body to get used to the medication. It is possible your doctor may prescribe Glucophage in conjunction with another antidiabetic medicine, depending on your individual circumstances. 

What dosages are there? 

There are different strengths and dosages of Glucophage and you should only take the dose as prescribed by your doctor which will depend on your blood sugar levels. They may recommend you take the tablets once, twice or three times a day. The tablets are available in 500mg, 750mg and 1000mg and are prolonged release. This means the ingredients are released into the body over a period of time. They work slowly and deliver the dose steadily, rather than the whole dose immediately on taking the tablet. 

The maximum dose per day is 2000mg.  

What are the side effects of Glucophage? 

As with all medicines, Glucophage can have side effects although not everyone will experience them. These possible side effects can include: 

  • Vomiting 
  • Feeling sick 
  • Upset stomach 
  • Diarrhoea 
  • Feeling weak 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • A metallic taste in the mouth 

These side effects are more likely to occur on first taking Glucophage and should gradually improve over a period of time. Getting the body used to Glucophage by starting on a low dose and slowly increasing it can help deter side effects. As can ensuring you take this medication with or straight after meals.  

When taking Glucophage you should be aware of a condition known as lactic acidosis. This produces a sensation of burning in the muscles which is caused due to too much acid being present in the blood. This condition is also common after excess exercise. It occurs because there is not enough oxygen in the body to break down the glucose and so lactic acid is produced which causes the pain.  

Symptoms of lactic acidosis include: 

  • Muscle pain 
  • Feeling sick 
  • Vomiting 
  • Stomach pain 
  • Breathing difficulty 

Drinking a large amount of alcohol when taking Glucophage can also cause lactic acidosis. If you experience any side effects when taking Glucophage you should inform your doctor. 

When shouldn’t you use Glucophage? 

Glucophage may not be suitable for everyone. You should not take it if: 

  • You are allergic to metformin or any other ingredient in this medicine (refer to the package leaflet) 
  • You have a kidney, heart or liver problem or a severe infection 
  • You have recently had a heart attack  
  • You are dehydrated 
  • You suffer from uncontrolled diabetes and/or diabetic ketoacidosis 
  • You consume excessive alcohol  

You should not drink large amounts of alcohol when taking Glucophage, however, it is acceptable to have the occasional alcoholic drink. Alcohol can affect diabetes due to its sugar content. It does not directly affect the Glucophage medication. 

If you wish to get pregnant or are already pregnant and are prescribed Glucophage you should talk to your doctor before commencing the treatment. This is because diabetes in pregnant women is often controlled using insulin as it gives more stable control of the blood sugar levels. It is also possible to combine Glucophage and insulin for pregnant women with type 2 diabetes. Your doctor will decide what is best for your individual situation. 

Occasionally diabetes can occur during pregnancy, which is known as gestational diabetes. This is because all pregnant women develop a resistance to insulin while they are pregnant which stops after giving birth. This may be treated with Glucophage and/or insulin.  You should speak to your doctor before taking Glucophage if you plan to breastfeed your baby. Glucophage should not be given to children under 10 years of age. 

Does Glucophage interact with other medication? 

It is possible that Glucophage may interact with other medication so it is important to tell your doctor about any medicines you are taking, including herbal medicines, before commencing treatment. If you are taking any of the following medicines it is particularly important that your blood sugar levels are tested regularly if you are taking Glucophage as your dose may need to be adjusted due to the effect of the other medication: 

  • Steroids: for example prednisolone, which is a common steroid medicine 
  • Diuretics: which are used to get rid of water retention by making you Urinate more 
  • Hormone medication for men and women: such as testosterone, oestrogen and progesterone 
  • Heart and high blood pressure medicines 
  • Other medicines for diabetes 

You should also talk to your doctor if you are taking the contraceptive pill in conjunction with Glucophage as contraceptives can change your body’s reaction to glucose. 

Where can you buy Glucophage? 

You can only get Glucophage with a prescription from a doctor. 

Can  I get Glucophage without a prescription? 

No, Glucophage is not an over-the-counter medicine, you must have a prescription for it. 




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Patient information leaflet. GLUCOPHAGE SR 1000MG PROLONGED-RELEASE TABLETS PL 11648/0067. (n.d.) Retrieved 1 July, 2019 from 

Assessed by:

Dr Imran Malik, General practitioner
Registration number: GMC: 4741365

Dr Imran Malik studied undergraduate medicine at King's College University in Central London and clinical studies at the prestigious King's College Hospital. He graduated with a MBBS degree in 2000 and went on to gain postgraduate memberships with the Royal Society of Medicine and also General Practice in 2006.