A New Dawn for Inhalable Insulin?

Few treatments for type 1 diabetes have been as elusive and long-promised as inhalable insulin. The concept has always sounded remarkable: Instead of jabbing themselves with needles, type 1s (and insulin-using type 2s) could take a quick puff on an inhaler to get a dose of insulin.

Exubera, a brand of inhalable insulin made by Pfizer, was briefly on sale in 2006 and 2007, before being withdrawn. But the MannKind Corporation hasn’t let the past dampen its enthusiasm for the product’s future. MannKind currently is working with a new type of inhalable insulin, called Afrezza.

According to the company, the insulin works especially quickly: Peak levels “are achieved within 12 to 14 minutes of administration, effectively mimicking the release of meal-time insulin observed in healthy individuals, but which is absent in patients with diabetes.”

But no inhalable insulin can work on its own, which is why MannKind has also developed a next-generation insulin inhaler that they call the Dreamboat. The combination of insulin and inhaler has just been tested in a phase three clinical study. And the news was good-patients showed A1c decreases, reductions in hypoglycemia, and lower fasting blood sugar levels.

“We are pleased that (the study) met its primary endpoint of non-inferiority, by demonstrating that Afrezza produces A1c reductions comparable to insulin aspart,” said Alfred Mann, chairman and CEO of MannKind.

“Based on the results of this study, we believe that Afrezza can be used to achieve glycemic control that is comparable to the current standard of care while at the same time offering potential advantages in terms of lower fasting blood glucose levels, weight neutrality, and a lower overall risk of hypoglycemia.”

These results are still early, and work remains to be done before bringing the treatment to market. (If you’re interested in more details about the study, follow the link below.) But more options to treat diabetes are welcome, especially ones that help remove the pain and fear that needles can cause.




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