NICE shift insulin goalposts for some diabetics

Mon, 18 Dec 2006
NICE have once again shifted position on inhaled insulin for the treatment of diabetes in England and Wales. Issuing guidance to the NHS, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Awareness, said that inhaled insulin could be useful for patients who have severe needle phobias, or problematic injection sites.

NICE have made it clear that they do not think inhaled insulin should be used as a routine treatment. The Deputy Chief Executive at NICE, Andrea Sutcliffe, said: "NICE's job is to decide whether new treatments are more clinically and cost effective than those currently being used. Whilst inhaled insulin is as effective as injected insulin, it is much more expensive, meaning it's not a good use of NHS resources to routinely offer it to people with diabetes. However people with a severe fear of injections or those with serious problems that make injecting very difficult may not take their insulin properly which can make their diabetes worse. For these people, inhaled insulin can represent good value for money ."

Critics are likely to focus on the onus on cost. Sutcliffe’s message continued: "This decision is good news for those people with diabetes for whom injecting insulin seriously affects the quality of their life. And it is good news for the health service and the tax payers who fund it, because we can be assured that inhaled insulin will be used by the people who can benefit the most thus providing good value for money. We have also recommended further research takes place so we can better establish the place of this innovative approach to delivering insulin."
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