Sex Differences in Adverse Drug Reactions of Metformin: A Longitudinal Survey Study

Sieta T de Vries, Petra Denig, Corine Ekhart, Peter G M Mol, Eugene P van Puijenbroek*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
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Introduction: In general, women more often experience metformin-associated adverse drug reactions (ADRs) than men. Objectives: We aimed to assess whether sex differences in reported ADRs for metformin are observed at different times after initiation, and to explore their concurrence with sex differences in the dose of metformin over time. This may guide future studies in assessing the involved mechanisms of sex differences in metformin-associated ADRs and may guide sex-specific management of ADRs in clinical practice. Methods: This study has a longitudinal design using data about patients initiating metformin collected by the Dutch National Pharmacovigilance Center Lareb through their Intensive Monitoring program. Patients were asked to complete a web-based questionnaire six times after initiation (i.e., at 2 weeks, 6 weeks and at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months). The outcome variables were the proportion of patients reporting any ADR (primary) and the dose of metformin (secondary). Sex differences in the proportions of ADRs and in the dose were tested at each assessment using Pearson Chi-Squared tests and Wilcoxon rank-sum tests, respectively. Using Bonferroni adjustment for multiple testing, a p value < 0.01 was considered statistically significant. Results: The number of included patients was 1712 (40.9% women). Women reported an ADR more often than men, which was statistically significant at the assessment at 2 weeks (34% vs 25%, p < 0.001), and 6 weeks (37% vs 28%, p = 0.001) after initiation. In general, women were reported to be prescribed a lower dose than men, which became statistically significant at the 9-month assessment (p < 0.01). Conclusions: Sex differences in reported ADRs were seen in the first weeks after metformin initiation, whereas statistically significant differences in self-reported prescribed dosing were observed after several months. Patients, in particular women, might benefit from being prescribed lower metformin doses at treatment initiation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)489–495
Number of pages7
JournalDrug Safety
Issue number5
Early online date11-Feb-2020
Publication statusPublished - May-2020

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