Soon people suffering from diabetes will have another treatment option in their hands- inhaled insulin.
FDA has approved the new inhaled insulin which can be used by people suffering from type 1 or type 2 diabetes. It's a rapid acting insulin which the patient will take before every meal. The good news is that, you don't need a needle anymore. The new inhaled insulin will be known as Afrezza.
However, the medicine is not a replacement for the long acting insulin which is taken as an injection.
After inhaling Afrezza, it will be absorbed from the lung cells to the bloodstream of the patient. The medicine will take 15 to 20 minutes to peak in the blood. On the other hand, the injected insulin, which is taken before eating, takes almost an hour to peak. The body of the patient also clears the new medicine quicker than injected insulin. The new medicine will be out of the body in 2 to 3 hours.
How to take it
Afrezza comes in powder form. You can take a dose of Afrezza in a small inhaler, similar to the size of a whistle, to inhale it. The medicine is available in cartridge form and each cartridge provided contains a single dose.
Afrezza and injected insulin
In a study that included 500 patients with type 1 diabetes, which ran for 24 weeks, researchers found that the medicine is capable of controlling blood sugar equally well as that of the injected insulin. Using the new medicine, however, has a benefit- patience using Afrezza have lower risk of having low blood sugar, which is a complication seen with use of insulin. They also found that using the medicine resulted in less weight gain in patients.
Another study done on the medicine in case of type 2 diabetic patients found that patients who were not able to control blood sugar with the oral medicines found better results with the inhaled insulin. The results of the studies were showcased at the American Diabetes Association meeting.
That FDA has already approved Afrezza. The approval was based on the results found with 3000 people, which included 2000 people with type 2 diabetes than 1000 people with type 1 diabetes.
Some of the side-effects reported in the studies of Afrezza include low blood sugar, throat irritation or pain, cough, etc. it may also cause acute bronchospasm or sudden tightening of the chest and it'll be mentioned in the label.
The medicine is not for people suffering from asthma or COPD, or smokers. The medicine is not recommended for treatment of the serious complication called diabetic ketoacidosis, a condition in which high levels of blood acids (ketones) are created in the body.
FDA is also asking for further study of the medicine for finding out the potential possibility of lung cancer.
According to some of the experts, Afrezza can be a game changer for the people suffering from diabetes. It's easier to use. It's small and patience can be trained within minutes in using the product. In 2006, FDA approved Pfizer's inhaled insulin Exubera but the company withdrew the product from the market 2007 due to the low number of sales.
The new medicine works faster than both types of injected insulin- regular and the rapid acting insulin. With the benefits claimed for the medicine, it can be a very useful medicine for the patients suffering from diabetes. People who are averse to needles will find this solution a better one. The cost of the medicine is expected to comparable to the present fast acting injected insulin available in the market.