Prescribing Advice for GPs

An NHS Prescribing Advisers' Blog

Glargine cancer concerns

The European Medicines Agency (EMEA) has announced (PDF) that it will be investigating recently raised concerns that there may be an increased risk of cancer associated with insulin analogues, in particular insulin glargine (Lantus®).

Four studies have been conducted. Two of these studies found an increased risk of breast cancer in patients using insulin glargine as monotherapy but no increased risk in patients using insulin combinations. A third study found an increased risk of malignancies without providing additional information about the types of cancer assessed. The fourth study found no link between cancer (breast, colorectal, pancreatic or prostate) and use of any insulin.

The current data are inconclusive and the possibility of a link cannot currently be confirmed or excluded. The EMEA have undertaken to perform a detailed review of all available data.

The EMEA are advising that patients being treated with insulin glargine should continue their treatment as normal. The advice also states that there is no immediate need to change treatment.

Action: Clinicians should reassure patients and continue to prescribe until the results of the detailed review are available.

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