Both Sanofi Aventis and Novo Nordisk have been communicating with investors in the last few days, to address the backlash to four papers published in Diabetologia associating Sanofi-Aventis’ Lantus (long acting basal insulin) with increased cancer risk. Background to the controversy is here https://www.diabetologia-journal.org/cancer.html.
Notably, all the major diabetes organizations, including the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD), and the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), all suggest that patients not alter their insulin regimens. There have been a number of doctors that have pointed out weaknesses in the studies in Diabetologia, prompting Sanofi to term the studies “junk science.”
Novo Nordisk emphasized on a conference call last Sunday night that it had taken great care in designing Levemir, its long acting insulin analog, to ensure that it had no mitogenic (cancer promoting) effects and stated that in vitro and in vivo scientific data, meta-analyses, and post-marketing pharmacovigilance studies all suggest Levemir is clean as far as cancer signals go.
We have spoken to a range of doctors over the last few days, all of whom have emphasized (along with Sanofi and Novo Nordisk) that patients should not of their own accord change their treatment plans, but should talk to their doctors carefully about their regimen. While it is still unclear what the medical community's response will be, we add that patients should always discuss with their doctors their potential cancer risks and their general treatment options.
One of our key diaTribe advisors, Dr. Steve Edelman, founder of Taking Care of Your Diabetes and a Professor at the University of California San Diego, stated that the reports associating Lantus with cancer were not “anything close to a proper scientific analysis.” Importantly, he urged patients to “stay focused on the most important issues with your health: blood sugar levels as close to goal as you can avoiding hypoglycemia and get your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in the correct range.”