The Canadian Health Ministry announced a review into whether diabetes drug Lantus, one of the most widely sold drugs worldwide by pharmaceutical giant Sanofi-Aventis, increases the risk of cancer.
"Health Canada is informing Canadians of an ongoing safety review of the potential association between the diabetes drug Lantus (insulin glargine) and an increased risk of developing cancer," the ministry said in a statement.
Similar reviews have already been launched by the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency after four studies examining the relationship between the drug and cancer incidence were published.
Three of the studies reported that the synthetic insulin, used to control blood sugar in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, was associated with a slightly higher risk of cancer, but the fourth study found no relationship.
"In all studies, the number of patients who developed cancer was small," the Canadian Health Ministry noted.
Lantus is a long-acting synthetic insulin that has been marketed in Canada by Sanofi-Aventis, a French drugmaker, since February 2005.
The ministry cautioned diabetics against stopping treatment with Lantus, noting the dangers posed by uncontrolled blood sugar.
"Patients should contact their healthcare professional if they have any concerns about the medicines they are taking," it said.