Study links another diabetes drug to cancer

Diabetics who use the world’s top-selling insulin drug Lantus may have more than double the risk of developing cancer, whereas those using the generic drug metformin had an 8 percent lower risk of developing cancer, according to a new study.

The research, presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, was based on medical record of 23,266 patients in southern Sweden. The study did not identify which types of cancer were most common among Lantus users, but it did suggest that the diabetes drug could possibly play a role in the development of cancer and that the type of drug therapy used may also play an important role in relation to cancer.

Lantus, a once-daily injection, is currently under investigation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) based on previous studies that found the drug raised the risk of tumor development among diabetics. The federal agency is reviewing three trials currently underway and will report its findings when those studies are concluded. Until then, the FDA says there is no conclusive danger at this point. Lantus sales have continued to climb to $4.7 billion in 2010.

Lantus is not the only diabetes drug to be linked to cancer. Earlier this year the FDA issued a warning about the type 2 diabetes drug Actos after studies linked use of the drug to bladder cancer. Studies indicate long term use of Actos may put users at even greater risk for developing the disease. The agency is currently reviewing more studies on Actos to decide if the drug should remain on the market in the United States.

ACTOS is a trademark of Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and used under license by Takeda Pharmaceuticals America, Inc.

LANTUS is a registered trademark of sanofi-avemtis.

Source: Bloomberg