Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

New Diabetes Treatments Show Promise

Inhaled Insulin, Lizard-Saliva Drug Offer New Options

No More Needles

In a separate three-month trial involving 309 patients, the inhaled insulin Exubera was compared with treatment with two blood sugar-lowering drugs or in combination with the two treatments.

The groups receiving Exubera either alone or in combination with the two diabetes pills achieved better blood sugar levels than those taking oral medications use to enhance insulin secretion or increase insulin sensitivity.

But mild weight gain was seen in patients taking the inhaled insulin and was similar to that seen with injected insulin.

Exubera therapy resulted in more low-blood-sugar episodes (hypoglycemia) than those taking the combination oral drug alone. The study was paid for by Exubera manufacturers Pfizer Inc. and the French company Sanofi-Aventis. Both companies are WebMD sponsors.

An FDA advisory panel recently approved Exubera, and experts tell WebMD that they expect the treatment to be commercially available soon.

Patients would be expected to embrace an alternative to insulin shots, and studies have shown that, in theory, this is the case. But the experts say acceptance of inhaled insulin is far from certain.

That is because the insulin-delivery device is relatively large -- about the size of a standard flashlight -- and it must be used before every meal.

"Most people picture an asthma inhaler, but this is much bigger," diabetes treatment expert Richard Comi, MD, tells WebMD.

There is also some concern about the long-term toxicity of inhaled insulin, says Rizza. And Comi expressed concerns about whether smokers and patients with lung problems will be candidates for inhaled treatment.

The inhaled insulin comes in a dry powder delivery system similar to some asthma inhalers. When it hits the lungs, it's absorbed directly into the bloodstream, allowing it to take effect faster than injected insulin.

Time Will Tell

Rizza and Comi agree that only time with tell if patients will flock to the two new diabetes treatments.

"I can tell you that my patients have told me that they would love to exchange their needles for inhaled insulin, even if its delivery is somewhat cumbersome," says Comi, who is chief of endocrinology at New Hampshire's Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. "But I think it is impossible to know what patient acceptance will be until [these treatments] are out there."

1 | 2

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Low
0-69
Normal
70-130
High
131+

Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 and you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Woman holding cake
Slideshow
feet
Slideshow
 
man organizing pills
Slideshow
Close up of eye
Slideshow
 

Woman serving fast food from window
Video
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Video
 
Middle aged person
Tool
are battery operated toothbrushes really better
Video
 

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Article
type 2 diabetes
Slideshow
 
food fitness planner
Tool
Are You at Risk for Dupuytrens Contracture
Article
 

WebMD Special Sections