Diabetes drug found in Lake Michigan could hurt fish: experts warn

Diabetes drug found in Lake Michigan could hurt fish: experts warn

The level of a diabetes drug in Lake Michigan has reached to the extent where it could hurt the endocrine systems of fish, researchers have warned.

A team of researchers with the School of Freshwater Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee tested Lake Michigan waters outside one plant, and found that the diabetes drug metformin was the most common personal-care medicine present there.

Prof. Rebecca Klaper, of freshwater science at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, said, "It was kind of a surprise. It was not even on our radar screen. I said, 'What is this drug?'"

Prof. Lenczewski, who wasn't involved in the study, said previous theory that the volume of water in the Great Lakes was so big that any drugs would be diluted to the point that they wouldn't pose any problem, now seems to being diluted itself.

The researchers said the drug could be found in water samples taken as far as two miles off the shore of Lake Michigan.

Metformin is a preliminary treatment for type 2 diabetes. It is the most commonly prescribed drug for the condition. According to drug-market research firm IMS Health, as many as 70 million prescriptions of the aforementioned drug were dispensed in 2013.

As the diabetes drugs aren't broken down fully after they are consumed and then excreted, they get into the sewage and ultimately into the waters of the lake.

Other substances found in the Lake Michigan waters include caffeine, an antibiotic substance sulfamethoxazole, and an antibacterial substance triclosan, which is commonly found in soaps and detergents.