The number of people in the United States who have diabetes is believed to have tripled in the last quarter-century. Millions of people with diabetes rely on injections to control their blood sugar.
Inhaled insulin called Exubera, could help diabetics who are reluctant to take injections. The insulin is being developed by Pfizer, Sanofi-Aventis and Nektar Therapeutics.
Chief concerns about the drug involve its long-term effects on the lungs, as well as whether it is safe and effective on people who smoke or have lung disease, according to documents released by the Food and Drug Administration.
During drug trials, researchers found that inhaled insulin was generally as effective as injections in controlling blood sugar levels. However, some patients who took inhaled insulin complained of coughing and a small decrease in breathing capacity.
“The prospect of being able to use insulin while avoiding some… or all… of the injections historically part and parcel of insulin therapy stands to appeal to many patients, family members and physicians,” wrote Dr. David Orloff, director of the FDA’s division of metabolic and endocrine drug products.
“It is essential that we and they understand the benefits and risks of this novel drug-device combination,” Orloff said.
Inhaled insulin could be used to manage blood sugar levels for people with either type who need insulin injections before meals. It wouldn’t replace longer-acting insulin injections for people with Type 1 diabetes who need to take theirs in the morning or before bed, according to FDA documents.
As we wait for the FDA’s decision, you can read more about Exubera inhaled insulin at Nektar Therapeutics…