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June 18, 2001

Insulin Analogs

Question from Arlington, Washington, USA:

How safe is Lantus if you have retinopathy? I have lost one eye to it, and I am having problems with the other eye.

Answer:

As you know, Lantus (insulin glargine) is a new insulin analog. Its role in therapy is that it is a long-acting insulin which is given only once a day. We have not used this medication a long time. However, manufacturers of new drugs have to perform studies on medications prior to having them approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Lantus was tested in both patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Retinopathy was specifically studied by means of adverse event reporting and a retinopathy score after pictures were taken of the eye. The number of adverse events was similar to patients using NPH insulin as the long-acting insulin. When the scoring system was used, results were similar in type 1 diabetes patients, but there was a small increase in the retinopathy score in patients with type 2 diabetes. This information is disclosed on the package insert for Lantus. The significance of the small increase is not known at this time. Follow-up studies will probably be done to see if this is a consistent finding, or an isolated finding.

JTL