Inhaled Insulin Appeals to Diabetes Patients
More Would Take Insulin if Inhaler Approved, Company-Funded Study Shows
WebMD News Archive
Freemantle hears this often from the diabetes doctors he works with.
"Oh, the avoidance techniques patients use when their doctors suggest a
switch from oral drugs to insulin," he says. They say, 'I'll improve my
diet,' or, 'I am going through a difficult time right now,' or 'I will get
better.' It leaves a doctor with a sense of powerlessness. If doctors can offer
patients something different, like inhaled insulin, it gives them a bit of new
ammunition to tackle this problem."
Barrett notes that inhaled insulin won't just be used by those starting
insulin therapy. It might also be used by people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes
already on injection insulin. When in a social situation at mealtime, a person
could use an inhaler instead of a needle to get the insulin dose they need for
blood-sugar control. Or, the inhaler could simply offer a break to people
taking three to five insulin shots a day.
"I've asked those people, 'Given that you've been taking insulin
injections for 10-15 years, if given the chance to inhale some of your insulin
doses, would you?' Most say, 'Great, sometimes I'd rather take the
inhalation,'" Barrett says.
And Barrett notes that inhalation insulin might be more acceptable than
insulin shots for children with type 1 diabetes.
Safety of Inhalation Insulin Still Not Proved
Nobody will be taking inhalation insulin if it isn't safe. So far, there
haven't been any major safety problems with inhaled insulin. But insulin isn't
a short-term treatment. Patients take it for the rest of their lives. That is
why the FDA is taking a hard look at safety data on Exubera.
Meanwhile, Freemantle's team is continuing their study. Instead of merely
asking patients whether they would take inhaled insulin, they're now actually
offering them the chance to take it. It remains to be seen whether patients
really do what they say they will do.