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Review of Metformin Use for Type 2 Diabetes Prevention.

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Prediabetes is prevalent and significantly increases lifetime risk of progression to type 2 diabetes. This review summarizes the evidence surrounding metformin use for type 2 diabetes prevention.

Evidence acquisition

Articles published between 1998 and 2017 examining metformin use for the primary indication of diabetes prevention available on MEDLINE.

Evidence synthesis

Forty articles met inclusion criteria and were summarized into four general categories: (1) RCTs of metformin use for diabetes prevention (n=7 and n=2 follow-up analyses); (2) observational analyses examining metformin use in heterogeneous subgroups of patients with prediabetes (n=9 from the Diabetes Prevention Program, n=1 from the biguanides and the prevention of the risk of obesity [BIGPRO] trial); (3) observational analyses examining cost effectiveness of metformin use for diabetes prevention (n=11 from the Diabetes Prevention Program, n=1 from the Indian Diabetes Prevention Program); and (4) real-world assessments of metformin eligibility or use for diabetes prevention (n=9). Metformin was associated with reduced relative risk of incident diabetes, with the strongest evidence for use in those at highest risk (i.e., aged <60 years, BMI ≥35, and women with histories of gestational diabetes). Metformin was also deemed cost effective in 11 economic analyses. Recent studies highlighted low rates of metformin use for diabetes prevention in real-world settings.


Two decades of evidence support metformin use for diabetes prevention among higher-risk patients. However, metformin is not widely used in real-world practice, and enhancing the translation of this evidence to real-world practice has important implications for patients, providers, and payers.

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