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Inhaled Insulin for Type 2 Diabetes Shows Mixed Results

The Windows on Medical Technology report is published by ECRI Institute, an independent nonprofit health services research agency that researches the best approaches to improving patient care. The institute produces systematic reviews on medical devices, drugs, biotechnologies, procedures, and health services.

Jonathan Treadwell, Ph.D., senior research analyst at ECRI Institute, led a team of investigators who analyzed eight studies encompassing 1,881 patients with type 2 diabetes to make the comparisons between inhaled insulin, injected insulin, and oral medication regimens.

Despite some positive findings, the authors write, the evidence regarding inhaled insulin for patients with type 2 diabetes is still insufficient to answer many key clinical questions such as patient satisfaction, inhaled insulins effect on other complications of diabetes, on weight gain, and very importantly, the long-term effects on lung function.

One detail to note about inhaled insulin the dosing is not as precise as with injections because specific increments in doses are not as precise, Treadwell said. He added that companies who are developing inhaled insulin are working on more dose-tailored devices.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when glucose remains in the blood instead of being transported to cells as it is supposed to be. There is no cure, but the disorder can often be controlled with medication and lifestyle modifications. When these changes are insufficient to control diabetes, oral medication and sometimes insulin become necessary.

Insulin can be delivered through needle syringes, insulin pens, jet injectors and external infusion pumps. If uncontrolled, diabetes can lead to heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, nerve damage, poor circulation, amputation of limbs, and ultimately result in death.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration first approved inhaled insulin to
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