Inhaled insulin a reality

Mon, 30 Jan 2006
Insulin was discovered almost 100 years ago, and yet in terms of delivery method, as a treatment it has barely evolved. Millions of diabetics around the world have to inject insulin daily to manage their condition and keep their blood sugar levels stable. This method of treating the condition is perceived by many as outdated, and in America this has been proven true. The FDA, the powerful government Food and Drug Administration, have approved an application for insulin able to be inhaled.

The application comes from Pfizer, and is for a drug known as Exubera. Exubera, a dry-powder recombinant human type of insulin, was developed by Nektar Therapeutics in partnership with Pfizer. Exubera will be ingested prior to meals, and delivered into the lungs using an inhaler.

In the US, experts estimate that 5 million of the total diabetic population of 21 million, have to inject insulin on a daily basis. The impact of Exubera on the market is expected to be enormous, as many patients make the switch.

Exubera has performed extremely well at the clinical trials stage, and even surpasses standard insulin in rate of effectiveness. For type 1 patients it may still be necessary to use long-term insulin combined with Exubera (to replace short-term) but type 2 patients may be able to use Exubera alongside non-insulin control pills.

However, critics are cautioning that the impact of Exubera on lung functions has not bee properly researched. Smokers and diabetics with asthma or other lung conditions may need monitoring.
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