Sanofi-Aventis has come out fighting in defence of Lantus and has cited experts who believe that claims of a potential link between the diabetes drug and an increased risk of cancer are “inconclusive and inconsistent”.

The rumpus over Lantus (insulin glargine) began last month after three of four studies, published in the journal Diabetologia which suggest an increased risk for cancer associated with use of the drug. Sanofi disagreed with those findings and has now issued an “expert statement by a multidisciplinary board of renowned international experts” following “an in-depth assessment” of the controversial analyses.

The French drugmaker said that the 14-strong board of specialists, in the field of endocrinology, oncology and epidemiology, came to the conclusion, that “all four manuscripts have significant methodological limitations and shortcomings”. Matthew Riddle of Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, USA, said that the nature of these limitations “and their potential magnitude are such that, individually or in aggregate, these studies provide inconsistent and inconclusive results which do not justify new clinical recommendations to patients”.

Sanofi chief medical officer Jean-Pierre Lehner said that the experts’ view “is consistent with previous assessments of the published analyses. What we know about the safety of Lantus comes from a robust clinical programme...supported by solid post-marketing surveillance observations”. He added that “we are moving forward confidently with the external scientific and medical experts and health authorities toward next steps to resolve this controversy”.

The experts say they have proposed a set of actions to be implemented by the company “and by independent experts or professional associations that they believe will lead to a clear and definite conclusion on this situation”. They can be found by visiting the link below.