Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Diabetes Drug May Help Control Weight Gain in Schizophrenia Patients

Metformin, a drug used for diabetes, may have an important role in diminishing the adverse consequences of obesity and metabolic impairments in patients with schizophrenia. That was the finding from a study by researchers at the University of North Carolina, Columbia University, and New York State Psychiatric Institute published online July 12 in the American Journal of Psychiatry. In a double-blind study, 148 overweight patients with chronic schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder were randomly assigned to receive 16 weeks of metformin or placebo. Metformin was titrated up to 1,000 mg twice daily, as tolerated. All patients continued to receive their pre-study medications, and all received weekly diet and exercise counseling. The primary outcome measure was change in body weight from baseline to week 16.

Fifty-eight patients who received metformin and 58 who received placebo completed 16 weeks of treatment. Mean change in body weight was −3.0 kg for the metformin group and −1.0 kg for the placebo group. Metformin also demonstrated a significant between-group advantage for body mass index, triglyceride level, and hemoglobin A1c level. Metformin-associated side effects were mostly gastrointestinal and generally transient.

“Metformin was modestly effective in reducing weight and other risk factors for cardiovascular disease in clinically stable, overweight outpatients with chronic schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder over 16 weeks,” the researchers concluded. “A significant time-by-treatment interaction suggests that benefits of metformin may continue to accrue with longer treatment.”

For more on the subject of psychosis and weight gain, see Psychiatric News here.

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