Sanofi's diabetes drug may increase cancer risk: European study

Sanofi-Aventis's diabetes drug Lantus may increase cancer risk, according to European studies on 300,000 insulin-treated patients. The study has led to calls for more research from experts.

The European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) said while releasing details of four studies from its journal Diabetologia that the findings were not conclusive but suggested need for further investigation of the issue.

The French drugmaker's share price fell 12.3 per cent in two days following reports of the findings.

Lantus sold $3.41 billion in 2008 and is a key product for Sanofi with top drugs like Plavix and Lovenox facing the threat of generic competition. Analysts have been expecting steady gowth in the sales of the drug over the next five years.

According to a German study of 127,031 patients on insulin development of malignancies was more common in patients treated with Lantus, also called glargine, than in others on old-style human insulin.

"Our analysis does not provide absolute proof that glargine promotes cancer," said Peter Sawicki, director of Germany's Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care and co-author of the study.