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Drugmaker vouches for efficacy of pill

A company has sought to allay fears of some diabetes patients who came forward with complaints that a pill they are taking is not fully assimilated by the body and could be a fake.

Fatima, a diabetic patient, had voiced apprehensions about the tablet, Glucophage XR (500mg), saying it had shown up virtually unchanged in her stool. She said some other patients who were taking the tablet had failed to notice this until she pointed it out to them.

Fatima said she worried about what would happen if the tablet were to remain inside the body and how it would affect internal organs.

Pharmaceutical company Merck Serono said in a statement that Glucophage XR is an advanced formulation of the oral anti-diabetic agent Metformin.

“When the tablet is swallowed, it absorbs water, swells and remains for a longer period of time in the stomach, releasing Metformin slowly into the upper part of the intestine. This is sufficient to allow for once daily dosage rather than 2 to 3 times daily intakes required for the immediate release [of] formulations of Metformin, making it more convenient for the patients,” it said. “With this advanced tablet technology, it is normal that remains of the tablet can show up in the patients’ stool the morning after the ingestion of the tablet and therefore patients and medical practitioners should be reassured.”

In clinical trials with more than 1,200 patients, Glucophage XR was shown to be comparable to Glucophage in lowering patients’ blood sugar levels. The Food and Drug Administration () of the US also approved Glucophage XR for use by patients who require combination therapy with Sulfonylureas or insulin, it said.

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