Inhalable insulin sounds wonderful and very appealing to people as an alternative to daily insulin injections.
Millions of people around the world have diabetes and must inject themselves with insulin once a day or more. Injections are uncomfortable, inconvenient and come with strict guidelines for disposal.
Exubera is a product that offers an insulin alternative to injections, and was developed by Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, one of the largest companies in drug manufacturing. They also produce Lipitor (a drug that effectively lowers cholesterol levels); Viagra (a popular drug to combat ED) and Celebrex (an anti-inflammatory drug).
Exubera delivers insulin directly to the lungs via an inhaler (similar to those used by people who suffer from asthma and COPD). When compacted and not in use, the size is 6 inches and 12 inches when in use.
The insulin is a fine powder that is inhaled and will provide a short-lived treatment for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. A blister surrounds the human insulin in the inhaler (imitating a medicine capsule). When inhaled, some insulin is absorbed directly into the lungs and some is sent directly to the bloodstream.
The effectiveness of Exubera is dependent on healthy lung function and it is not confirmed to be safe when used by smokers. A persons lungs are damaged due to cigarette smoke and the insulin absorption will vary greatly and is unpredictable and can cause a patient to have a severe drop in blood sugar levels. There have also been reports, from patients, that breathing becomes labored after inhaling the insulin.
Long term lung tissue damage is still to be determined and is of a great concern for researchers and needs much more intense investigation and testing.
Another huge concern is the dosing. Exubera is usually prescribed in conjunction with insulin injections. The dosing of the inhaler is in milligrams and the injection dosing is in units and because these different measurements do not always transfer equally; a large gap is left open for dosing errors. For example: one milligram equals 3 units of injected insulin BUT 3 milligrams is not equal to nine units of injected insulin.
Many people will put off taking insulin via injection as long as possible (sometimes five to ten years) to avoid the constant pricking of the needles. With this insulin inhaler, people with diabetes who require regular insulin, would be more inclined to get the proper treatment sooner knowing that there is a pain-free option, by way of an inhalable insulin alternative, for getting much need insulin into their body.