Lantus Insulin Linked with Increase in Cancer

The European Association for the Study of Diabetes (“EASD”), which publishes the journal Diabetologia, released new data suggesting that there is a “possible link” between French drug maker Sanofi-Aventis’s Lantus insulin (or insulin glargine) and a higher risk of cancer. Lantus insulin has been widely used since 2000 among diabetes patients who depend on insulin to regulate blood sugar because the injection is needed only once-a-day in lieu of more frequent therapies. Of particular import is that this type of insulin is synthetic, not human insulin. The EASD article suggests that further evaluation of the possible association is necessary but does not purport to recommend that anyone stop taking their insulin.

The data from two of the four observational studies published in Diabetologia suggest a statistically significant link between Lantus and cancer. While Sanofi-Aventis, who made $3.5 billion last year from Lantus, claims the data is inconclusive, the EASD as well as the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) and the American Diabetes Association caution that larger and more controlled studies are necessary in order to determine causality. Such a study is currently underway in the United States; however, it will not be completed for a few years.

Therefore, despite this possible link with cancer, patients are urged to continue taking their insulin and to discuss their options with their doctor especially if they have type-2 diabetes requiring high doses of Lantus, have had cancer, or have a family history of cancer. However, type-1 diabetes patients are unlikely to have as many options.

If you have any questions related to this information, please contact us at Pogust Braslow & Millrood. Additionally, as with any medication, side-effects related to Lantus should be reported to the FDA.