Nasal glucagon showed similar success in quickly treating hypoglycemia in type 1 diabetes when compared to the currently available injectable glucagon.
The findings of the trial were presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) on 4 October.
The current glucagon injection kits are effective, but they involve carrying out a number of steps and need to be injected into muscle, which can require training. As a result, glucagon injections can sometimes feel overwhelming for family or friends of someone with type 1 diabetes in a pressured emergency situation. Nasal glucagon is inhaled and is a significantly easier process.
The study involved carefully inducing participants with type 1 diabetes into hypoglycemia with infused insulin. The participants were then administered either nasal or injectable glucagon.
70 adults took part and each participant underwent each of the treatments on separate days. The treatments were compared by how successful each treatment was at raising blood glucose within 30 minutes of treatment.
Both treatments achieved a 100% success rate in achieving the required raise in blood sugar levels within 30 minutes. 97% of glucagon treatments achieved treatment success within 15 minutes.
The time needed for treatment success was slightly shorter for the injected glucagon than the nasal glucagon but both treatments performed well. Time for treatment success was 9.8 minutes for injectable glucagon and 11.4 minutes for nasal glucagon.
The side effects specifically related to nasal glucagon included watery eyes, nasal itching, nasal congestio, runny nose and sneezing. However, these were deemed acceptable for an emergency treatment. Both glucagon treatments had similar rates of nausea, vomiting and headaches.
Leona Plum-Moerschel, MD, of clinical trials company Profil Mainz, Germany, stated: “I think we can all agree that the safety profile is very much acceptable for an emergency treatment. I personally would expect that, due to its simplicity of use, nasal glucagon will create a greater community who can render quick aid in a rescue situation.”
The manufacturer of the nasal glucagon, Eli Lilly, has put forward drug applications for the treatment in the United States and European Union.

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