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Inhaled Insulin: A New Modality for Management of Diabetes

It is widely known that diabetes, one of the world’s leading debilitating diseases, has reached overwhelming proportions // . It affects an estimated 194 million adults worldwide. Therefore, there is a huge demand for innovative and effective therapeutic options that are beneficial to the patients.

There are two types of diabetes:

Type-1: Also known as Juvenile Diabetes, it accounts for approximately 5% of all the cases. This type is the direct result of the body’s inability to produce sufficient Insulin required for the breakdown of sugar.

Type-2: This results from the body not availing the Insulin that is present and is often associated with ageing, obesity and lack of physical activity.

On Saturday (June 9, 2006) the pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, announced the arrival of its 'Inhaled Insulin' Exubera, which will be available from July all over the United States. It is the first non-injectable Insulin to be marketed and is a revolutionary change in the management of Diabetes. The drug has been approved by the FDA. This announcement was made by Pfizer, along with its partner Nektar Therapeutics, at the annual scientific meeting of the American Diabetics Association.

It is claimed that the drug is far more user- friendly than the injectable version. A price has not yet been assigned to the drug.

Having been approved by the EU, diabetics in Europe also will have access to the drug.

In the US, the drug has been approved to treat both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes. Taken at mealtime, the patient inhales the Insulin through the mouth and the drug then is rapidly delivered into the lungs. The lungs are considered a safe place for its absorption due to its large and permeable surface area. From here it pass into the blood stream.

Pfizer recommends that Type 1 patients use Exubera along with the injections, while the Type 2 patients may use it alone or in combination with the in jections or pills.

Exubera is a boon to those patients with Type 2 Diabetes who are reluctant to be initiated on injectable Insulin and thus delay the treatment by up to four years. They strongly believe that the drug will have a huge impact on the treatment and management of the disease.

A cautionary note from the critics say that small injections of Insulin are far more predictable than any prescribed dose of inhaled Insulin and that it cannot be said with any finality that the inhaled Insulin is definitely superior to its injectable counterpart.

Patients need to consult with their physicians about the utilization of this new mode of treatment for management of diabetes.


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