Metformin, a drug used to treat type 2 diabetes, may be underused in the prevention of the chronic disease, according to a recent study conducted by researchers at UCLA. Their study showed that throughout a three year span, 2010-2012, only 3.7 percent of U.S. adults with prediabetes were prescribed metformin.

“Metformin is rarely being used for diabetes prevention among people at risk for developing it. This is something that patients and doctors need to be talking about and thinking about,” says Tannaz Moin, MD,  an assistant professor of medicine in the division of endocrinology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and the study’s lead author. The lack of metformin use for those at risk of type 2 is unclear, but it may be partially attributed to not having a full understanding of the drugs benefits, such as metformin usage combined with lifestyle change can stave off the disease.

There is also the apprehension of both patient and provider to treat prediabetes so aggressively with medication, a change of pace in a day and age when a prescription seems readily accessible for any ailment. Perhaps the most important factor in its underuse is that it’s not FDA approved for prediabetes.

However, if further research shows that metformin has a beneficial effect in helping to prevent the onset of type 2, it may be warranted for the medication’s prescribing practices to be revisited in people with prediabetes.

Source: University of California – Los Angeles Health Sciences