Anorexia Nervosa

Metformin abuse: A novel and dangerous purging behavior in anorexia nervosa

International Journal of Eating Disorders
By Daniela Grayeb, MD, FACP, CEDS Philip S. Mehler, MD, FACP, FAED, CEDS


Objective: To report a case of severe multisystem illness, near death and permanent kidney failure in a woman with a history of anorexia nervosa-binge purge type due to abuse of prescription metformin, an approved oral diabetes medication obtained surreptitiously via the internet.

Method: Psychiatric and medical records were reviewed from the medical care of this patient. A literature search was also performed on prescription medication abuse as a mode of purging.

Discussion: Metformin abuse in a patient with an eating disorder as a purging behavior is a rarely reported, albeit very dangerous entity. Clinicians treating eating disorders should increasingly be aware of the potential abuse of prescription medications, unapproved for weight loss but which have weight loss, as a reported side effect. This is particularly important as the ability to obtain prescription medications via the internet, without a prescription, becomes more ubiquitous.

Written by

Philip S. Mehler, MD, FACP, FAED, CEDS

Dr. Philip S. Mehler began his career at Denver Health more than 35 years ago and was formerly its Chief of Internal Medicine and then Denver Health’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) until he was promoted…

ACUTE Earns Prestigious Center of Excellence Designation from Anthem
In 2018, the ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders & Severe Malnutrition at Denver Health was honored by Anthem Health as a Center of Excellence for Medical Treatment of Severe and Extreme Eating Disorders. ACUTE is the first medical unit ever to achieve this designation in the field of eating disorders. It comes after a rigorous review process.

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