No Advisory against Insulin Brand Sans Proof: Ministry

DUBAI - The Ministry of Health (MoH) has not advised diabetes patients using Lantus, an artificial insulin, to alter their treatment after a report linking it with cancer was published in a European medical journal recently.

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Published: Sun 5 Jul 2009, 10:11 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 7:55 PM

The controversy over the safety of the insulin, which is typically administered once daily, sparked off when Diabetelogia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, published a series of research papers examining a possible link between insulin glargine and cancer.

Manufactured by Sanofi-aventis, artificial glargine insulin Lantus is sold as a prescription drug in the UAE. It is usually prescribed for adults with type 2 diabetes and adults and children (aged six and above) with type 1 diabetes who require long-acting insulin for the control of high blood sugar.

A senior MoH official told Khaleej Times that the ministry would not withdraw any medicine or medical product or ask patients to change their treatment without any proven evidence and recommendations from recognised regulatory bodies. “We cannot take any action based on inconclusive reports by an association. However, patients can consult their doctors if they have any concerns regarding this,” said CEO for Medical Practice and Licensing Dr Amin bin Hussein Al Amiri.

Medical Director of Sanofi-aventis — Gulf Countries Hisham Mahmoud said the company considered the data published by Diabetologia as “inconclusive and inconsistent, as per the authors’ statements”.

“The studies did not have the proper methodology and lack robustness to provide definite conclusions. However, in light of the alleged findings, these publications have created unwarranted concerns and confusion among patients and healthcare providers,” he said.

He said a five-year follow-up in a randomised clinical trial with Lantus did not find any signal for an increased risk of cancer. “After a thorough review of our clinical trials and post-marketing data, we can re-confirm these findings.” Mahmoud said the company is working with the MoH on the matter. “Sanofi-aventis has proactively contacted all health authorities, physicians and key opinion leaders concerned.”

He said there has been no official announcement made to discontinue the use of Lantus. Mahmoud added that patients should refer to their practising physician for any questions they may have (regarding their insulin treatment).

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