This study was conducted to define a safe, effective dose regimen for metformin in moderate and severe chronic kidney disease (CKD; stages 3A/3B and 4, respectively), after the lifting of restrictions on metformin use in patients with diabetes with moderate-to-severe CKD in the absence of prospective safety and efficacy studies.
Three complementary studies were performed: 1) a dose-finding study in CKD stages 1–5, in which blood metformin concentrations were evaluated during a 1-week period after each dose increase; 2) a 4-month metformin treatment study for validating the optimal metformin dose as a function of the CKD stage (3A, 3B, and 4), with blood metformin, lactate, and HbA1c concentrations monitored monthly; and 3) an assessment of pharmacokinetic parameters after the administration of a single dose of metformin in steady-state CKD stages 3A, 3B, and 4.
First, in the dose-finding study, the appropriate daily dosing schedules were 1,500 mg (0.5 g in the morning [qam] +1 g in the evening [qpm]) in CKD stage 3A, 1,000 mg (0.5 g qam + 0.5 g qpm) in CKD stage 3B, and 500 mg (qam) in CKD stage 4. Second, after 4 months on these regimens, patients displayed stable metformin concentrations that never exceeded the generally accepted safe upper limit of 5.0 mg/L. Hyperlactatemia (>5 mmol/L) was absent (except in a patient with myocardial infarction), and HbA1c levels did not change. Third, there were no significant differences in pharmacokinetic parameters among the CKD stage groups.
Provided that the dose is adjusted for renal function, metformin treatment appears to be safe and still pharmacologically efficacious in moderate-to-severe CKD.