Asthma Slows Inhaled Insulin Absorption

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Research presented September 10 at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes suggests that people with diabetes who have asthma absorb less insulin than non-asthmatic people with diabetes when the drug is inhaled rather than injected.

According to Reuters Health, researchers told delegates to the meeting, “Asthma can potentially affect the pharmacokinetics of inhaled insulin. The asthmatic group had a significantly lower share of insulin concentration, indicating that they absorb significantly less than normal subjects. One possible explanation is their impaired pulmonary function.”

Reuters Health says the researchers studied 28 healthy volunteers and 16 asthmatic volunteers using the experimental AERx insulin diabetes management system developed by Aradigm Corporation of Hayward, California. The subjects were given two different doses of the inhaled drug—the first equivalent to 6 subcutaneous units of insulin, the second equivalent to 17 units. The researchers then measured insulin uptake and used a range of lung-function tests to monitor the drug’s effect on the airways.

Researchers found that insulin uptake in the asthmatic group was significantly lower than in the non-asthmatic controls.

The same study showed that inhaled insulin is safe for use by asthmatics, with no effect on lung capacity or airway reactivity.

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