Context: Drug-induced hypoglycemia is a significant adverse effect that may cause important morbidity.
Objective: The aim of the study was to systematically review the literature for drugs reported to cause hypoglycemia and assess the quality of evidence and strength of association supporting this causal link.
Data sources: We searched electronic databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, Web of Science, and SCOPUS) and the drug information system Micromedex through November 2007 and sought additional references from experts.
Study selection: Studies were eligible if they reported hypoglycemia as a side effect of a drug not used to treat hyperglycemia, regardless of their design, language, size, or follow-up duration. We excluded hypoglycemia caused by industrial exposures, nonpharmacological chemical exposures, alcohol, herbs, nutritional supplements, and in vitro and animal studies.
Data extraction: Reviewers extracted study characteristics and methodological quality and, when possible, data to estimate the odds of developing hypoglycemia when exposed to the offending agent.
Data synthesis: We found 448 eligible studies that described 2696 cases of hypoglycemia associated with 164 different drugs. The quality of evidence supporting associations between drugs and hypoglycemia was mostly very low due to methodological limitations and imprecision. The most commonly reported offending drugs were quinolones, pentamidine, quinine, beta blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme agents, and IGF.
Conclusions: Very low quality evidence substantiates the association between hypoglycemia and the use of numerous nondiabetic drugs.