Compare metformin vs. Actos

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Glucophage
(metformin)

Actos
(pioglitazone)

Lowers blood sugar. Glucophage (metformin) is the first choice medicine to control your blood sugar and lower the risk of death from diabetes, although a few people may not tolerate the stomach side effects.Lowers blood sugar. Actos (Pioglitazone) is a last-choice blood sugar-lowering medicine since it's only moderately effective but has a lot of undesirable side effects.
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Coupons for metformin
Best available price for 60 (500mg) tablets of metformin
Coupons for Actos
Best available price for 30 (30mg) tablets of actos
Reviews & ratings
Filter group. All currently selected
Filter group. All currently selected
5.01metformin
Reviews for metformin
65%
of people (All ages) say metformin is worth it
46%
say it works well
16%
say it's a big hassle
938 reviews
Have you used Glucophage (metformin)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Reviews for Actos
42%
+23% better vs. metformin
30%
+16% better vs. metformin
21%
+5% better vs. metformin
175 reviews
Have you used Actos (pioglitazone)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Side effects
metforminActos
  • Diarrhea 41%
  • Nausea/vomiting 18%
  • Gas 6%
  • Weakness 3%
  • Indigestion 3%
  • Stomach pain 1%
  • Headache 1%
More metformin side effects »
  • Swelling due to excess fluid 11%
  • Low blood sugar 8%
  • Ear, nose, or throat infection 4%
  • Headache 2%
  • Cardiac failure 2%
  • Back pain 1%
  • Sinus inflammation 1%
  • Muscle pain 2%
More Actos side effects »
How it works
metforminActos
Glucophage (metformin) is an anti-diabetic drug. It lowers the amount of sugar your body makes or absorbs, and allows your body use the existing insulin better.Actos (Pioglitazone) is an anti-diabetic drug. It improves your body's ability to use insulin to lower your blood sugar.
Type of medication
metforminActos
Prescription onlyPrescription only
Available as
metforminActos
  • Pill
  • Extended release pill
  • Liquid
  • Pill
Used for
metforminActos
Risk factors for serious side effects
metforminActos
  • Kidney problems
  • Liver problems
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Using contrast dye for procedures
  • Surgery
Detailed Glucophage (metformin) risks & warnings »
  • Heart failure diagnosis
  • Current liver problems
  • Female
Detailed Actos (pioglitazone) risks & warnings »
Pregnancy

Research studies with animals haven’t found a risk to unborn babies, but it hasn’t been properly studied in humans.

Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

Alcohol
metforminActos
  • Limit or avoid alcohol when taking this medicine.
  • Excessive or chronic alcohol use can increase the risk of a dangerous side effect.
No alcohol related info.
Food
metforminActos
  • Always take it with food to lessen stomach upset.
No food related info.
Kidneys and liver
metforminActos
  • Glucophage (metformin) can cause this rare life-threatening condition. Your doctor will check your kidneys and liver before you start. Symptoms include deep and rapid breathing, nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain. This is a medical emergency and you should get help right away. You're more likely to get this if you already have kidney problems. Glucophage (metformin) should be stopped 48 hours before and after surgery or any imaging procedure needing contrast dye.
  • Usually not a good choice for people with kidney problems. Your doctor will tell you if Glucophage (metformin) is right for you to take.
No kidneys and liver related info.
Weight
metforminActos
  • Doesn't cause weight gain.
  • Can cause weight gain, headache, and fluid retention.
  • More likely to cause weight gain (2 to 6 pounds or more) compared to other blood sugar-lowering medicines.
Upsides and benefits
metforminActos
  • Improves sugar control and lowers A1c levels as much as 2%.
  • One of the few diabetes medicines that lowers the risk of death from diabetes-related complications.
  • Doesn't cause weight gain.
  • Rarely causes low blood sugar.
  • Oral blood sugar-lowering medicine.
  • Lowers A1c levels by around 1%. (Hemoglobin A1c measures your average blood sugar over time.)
  • Prevents the harmful effects of high sugar levels on your organs and blood vessels.
  • Rarely causes low blood sugar.
Downsides and risks
metforminActos
  • Often causes stomach upset, like diarrhea, nausea, gas, or stomach cramping.
  • Usually not a good choice for people with kidney problems. Your doctor will tell you if Glucophage (metformin) is right for you to take.
  • Excessive or chronic alcohol use can increase the risk of a dangerous side effect.
  • May take several weeks to lower blood sugar.
  • You have to check your blood sugar regularly with this medicine.
  • Has more side effects than similar medicines, so it's usually not the first choice for new Type 2 diabetes patients.
  • More likely to cause weight gain (2 to 6 pounds or more) compared to other blood sugar-lowering medicines.
  • Up to 1 in 10 people might get fluid retention (edema), ranging from mild ankle swelling to severe swelling in the lungs that makes it hard to breathe. People with severe congestive heart failure shouldn't use Actos.
  • Raises the risk of bone fractures, especially for people who already have a risk for fractures.
  • Slightly raises the risk of bladder cancer.
Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
metforminActos
  • Can cause upset stomach with nausea and especially diarrhea in the first couple of weeks.
  • Always take it with food to lessen stomach upset.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Limit or avoid alcohol when taking this medicine.
  • Tell your doctor about any deep or rapid breathing, or persistent nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain.
  • Check your blood sugar regularly.
  • Takes several weeks to see full effect on blood sugar control.
  • Can cause weight gain, headache, and fluid retention.
  • Tell your doctor about any mental confusion, persistent abdominal pain, dark urine, yellowing of eyes/skin, or easy bruising.
  • Not recommended for patients with certain heart problems.
  • Check your blood sugar regularly.
Learn more
More about metforminSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Glucophage (metformin)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
More about ActosSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Actos (pioglitazone)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it