Oral combination therapy with biguanides (metformin) and sulfonylureas is discussed. The rationale for the use of this combination is based on the different sites of action of the two kinds of drugs and the possibility for obtaining additive or potentiating effects and reduced side effects. The clinical usefulness of chlorpropamide and glyburide in combination with metformin has been demonstrated in some clinical trials. The combination may provide satisfactory glycemic control for several years, and possibly insulin therapy can be postponed or even avoided. No special safety problems are encountered with the use of the combination other than those attributed to the use of metformin or sulfonylurea alone, i.e., lactic acidosis and hypoglycemia, respectively. The lethality risks of these associated conditions are comparable. It is concluded that more data are needed to evaluate the full clinical potential and the mechanism of action of oral combination therapy.

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