Concern over Lantus cancer risk
Sanofi-Aventis SA fell the most in a month in Paris trading on renewed concern that the Lantus diabetes treatment, the French drugmaker's top-selling product, may be linked to an increased risk of cancer.
A study of 1,500 patients published recently in the journal Diabetes Care tied insulin glargine, as Lantus also is known, to a higher cancer risk, according to a note from Hobart Capital Markets, a London brokerage. The study is "unclear" and "lacks precision," Jean-Pierre Lehner, Sanofi's chief medical officer, said in a telephone interview. The study can be "methodologically challenged," the company said.
Sanofi shares slumped a year ago after Ralph DeFronzo, a researcher at the University of Texas Health Science Center, said on a conference call that studies would show Lantus was tied to cancer. As it turned out, the research published in the journal Diabetologia delivered mixed results, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it didn't show a link.
"There's no difference in what this study is showing and what was published last year," Nick Turner, an analyst at Mirabaud Securities in London, said in a telephone interview. "Clearly the risk is relatively light. If anything, this study shows that the risk could be mitigated with dosage, which is a positive."