NHS reject diabetes oral insulin inhaler

Wed, 19 Apr 2006
Insulin that can be inhaled is currently changing the daily routine of type 1 diabetics across the globe. The need to inject insulin on a daily basis will hopefully one day become a thing of the past. However, NHS advisers have rejected an inhaleable insulin product on the grounds of cost.

The drug, Exubera, has been successful in other parts of the world, and provides an alternative to daily injections for type 1 diabetics. The cost of the treatment is estimated as being approximately £1,100 per person per annum, although these patients would also need to use insulin injections by night.

The guidance by the NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence for England and Wales) was said to be a disappointment for campaigners for non-injected insulin in this country.

In the UK, the figure for diabetics who manage their condition with injections was surprisingly high, around 800,000. The drug Exubera is certainly a medical breakthrough, and to restrict it on the basis of cost seems a shame, according to diabetes experts.

The manufacturers Pfizer were surprised by the decision, and a spokesperson was reported as saying: "NICE has dismissed the robust scientific and medical evidence used by international medical experts in the US and Europe to grant widespread approval for this medicine. The choice here is quite simple: force patients to keep enduring the burden of multiple daily injections and poor compliance, as they have since the 1920s, or give them an alternative."
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