What is the difference between acarbose and metformin?

Acarbose Chemical Structure

Acarbose

difference between acarbose and metformin Structure

Metformin HCl

Acarbose vs Metformin (difference between acarbose and metformin)

Metformin hydrochloride is another widely used common drug for diabetes. What are their differences? besides their differences on physical and chemical properties such as the structurer, appearance, etc. Below we list the main difference between acarbose and metformin on other aspects.

1. Birth Day and Popularity

Metformin is the first-line oral hypoglycemic agent for type 2 diabetes mellitus recommended by international guidelines. The fact is that metformin is not only indicated for Type 2 diabetes, especially for those people who are overweight but also used for the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome, while acarbose is used for type 2 diabetes mainly.

Metformin was discovered in 1922 and put to tests in humans in the 1950s. It was much earlier introduced as a medication than acarbose, while acarbose was not approved until Aug 16th,1999. 

Metformin is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines while acarbose is not enlisted yet. Metformin is the most widely used medication for diabetes taken by mouth all over the world, while acarbose is only popular in Asia.

2. Raw Material Cost

As for the raw material prices, metformin is way cheaper than acarbose. The price for metformin raw material is less than 10usd/kg, while the unit price for acarbose is over 700usd/kg.

3. Dosage Forms

Metformin has more dosage forms than acarbose. There are pills, extended-release pills, and liquid for metformin, while there are only pill forms for acarbose. Neither of them has injection forms.

4. Safety

As for safety, acarbose is safer and has fewer side effects than metformin. Acarbose is safe for people over 65. We think the less demand and more complicated manufacturing process compared to metformin consist of the main factors for the higher cost of acarbose.

But there was one study conducted to show that the glucose-lowering effects of metformin monotherapy and acarbose monotherapy are the same by direct comparison with acarbose, while metformin is even a little better by indirect comparison. This implies that the effect of metformin is at least as good as acarbose. Another study provides evidence that acarbose is similar to metformin in efficacy for Type 2 diabetes and is, therefore, a viable choice for initial therapy in Chinese patients newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. It is just that acarbose is much safer within Asians.

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