Comparison of acarbose and metformin in patients with Type 2 diabetes mellitus insufficiently controlled with diet and sulphonylureas: a randomized, placebo-controlled study

Diabet Med. 1999 Sep;16(9):755-61. doi: 10.1046/j.1464-5491.1999.00149.x.


Aims: To compare the efficacy and safety of acarbose and metformin when added to sulphonylurea therapy in diabetic patients insufficiently controlled with sulphonylureas alone.

Methods: A 12-week, single-centre, placebo-controlled study, with 89 patients randomized to receive acarbose (100 mg t.d.s.), metformin (850 mg b.d.) or placebo in addition to their sulphonylurea therapy. The study was double-blinded with respect to acarbose/placebo and single-blinded for metformin/ acarbose and metformin/placebo. Patients started a strict dietary regimen 1 week before receiving their first dose of acarbose, metformin or placebo. This regimen was individually adjusted to metabolic status and energy requirements.

Results: The primary endpoint, HbA1c, decreased from baseline in all three groups after 12 weeks. The decrease was greater in the two groups receiving active therapy compared with placebo (acarbose -2.3+/-0.32%; metformin -2.5+/-0.16%; placebo -1.3+/-0.34%). There was no significant difference between acarbose and metformin (P=0.65). Differences between both active therapies and placebo were statistically significant (acarbose P < or = 0.01; metformin P < or = 0.004). Reductions in body weight over the treatment period were seen in all three groups and were greatest in the acarbose group (median weight reduction: acarbose 3.5 kg; metformin, 1.0 kg; placebo 1.4 kg). There were no significant differences in the incidence of gastrointestinal side-effects between the three groups and all regimens were generally well tolerated.

Conclusion: The results of the study demonstrate the equivalence of acarbose and metformin for improving metabolic control in patients insufficiently controlled with diet and sulphonylureas.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acarbose / adverse effects
  • Acarbose / therapeutic use*
  • Aged
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diet therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Food
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Metformin / adverse effects
  • Metformin / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Placebos
  • Sulfonylurea Compounds / therapeutic use*
  • Triglycerides / blood
  • Weight Loss


  • Blood Glucose
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Placebos
  • Sulfonylurea Compounds
  • Triglycerides
  • Metformin
  • Cholesterol
  • Acarbose