What are Actos and Metformin?

Both Actos and metformin are antidiabetic medicines that reduce elevated blood glucose levels in individuals with type II diabetes. However, there are substantial differences between the 2 drugs.

How do these medications work?

Containing different active ingredients, these prescription drugs exert their hypoglycemic actions through distinctly different mechanisms. In fact, metformin is not pharmacologically related to any other class of oral hypoglycemic agents. Metformin lowers blood glucose levels through the reduction of intestinal glucose absorption and hepatic glucose synthesis. At the same time, it increases glucose utilization and uptake peripherally, thereby enhancing insulin sensitivity. Formulated with pioglitazone (a thiazolidinedione), Actos has agonist activities on the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPAR) gamma. Through the reduction of insulin resistance (hepatically and peripherally), Actos inhibits the glucose output in the liver while promoting insulin-dependent glucose disposal.

Difference between Meformin vs. Actos

While both suitable for treating type II diabetes and polycystic ovarian syndrome, Actos and metformin are intended for different uses. Actos can be used to treat medical conditions such as prediabetes, atherosclerosis, and diabetic nephropathy. Metformin, on the other hand, is effective in preventing diabetes and treating obesity with high insulin and gestational diabetes.

In terms of glycemic control, metformin appears to perform better than Actos. On average, Actos is able to reduce the A1c level by about 1%, whereas metformin can achieve an A1c reduction of up to 2%. Notably, Actos is associated with a risk of increasing the body weight. In contrast, metformin is unlikely to cause weight gain. Actos is contraindicated in patients with a medical history of bladder cancer and heart conditions whilst metformin is contraindicated in individuals who have impaired kidney functions.

Actos is only available as tablets, while metformin is supplied in various dosage forms (including tablets, extended release tablets, and an oral solution). Apart from that, their side effect profiles are also different.

Actos is known to cause adverse effects such as:

  • swelling,
  • low blood sugar,
  • cold and flu,
  • chest pain,
  • headache.

Metformin side effects

  • nausea and vomiting,
  • diarrhea,
  • gas,
  • weakness.

Disclaimer: Please note that the contents of this community article are strictly for informational purposes and should not be considered as medical advice. This article, and other community articles, are not written or reviewed for medical validity by Canadian Insulin or its staff. All views and opinions expressed by the contributing authors are not endorsed by Canadian Insulin. Always consult a medical professional for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.