French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi has bought the marketing rights to the new inhaled insulin, Afrezza.
Afrezza is insulin in powder form that is inhaled rather than injected. The insulin, which has been developed by MannKind Corp., has recently been approved for marketing by the US Food and Drug Administration. Whilst Afrezza has been approved in the US, it is currently completing clinical trials for European approval.
Under the deal, Sanofi will pay MannKind $150 million up front and, if the new insulin meets sales targets, MannKind could receive up to $775 million more. The deal, therefore, could be worth almost a billion dollars. The $925 million maximum works out as around £550 million.
Sanofi is the manufacturer of the biggest selling insulin, Lantus; a long acting, analogue insulin that is used by people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Afrezza’s benefits include not requiring injections and its ultra rapid action. The insulin has a peak activity between 12 and 15 minutes after inhalation. This is much quicker than injections of rapid acting insulin which has peak activity between 30 and 90 minutes after being injected.
When tested in clinical trials, Afrezza was not able to achieve as good HbA1c levels in people with type 1 diabetes as rapid acting insulin injections. However, this may be explained to some degree by part the fact that patients taking Afrezza had lower rates of hypoglycemia.

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