New Diabetes Treatments Show Promise
Inhaled Insulin, Lizard-Saliva Drug Offer New Options
WebMD News Archive
Weight Gain, Weight Loss continued...
But the exenatide group reported much higher rates of gastrointestinal side
effects, with 57% reporting nausea, compared with 9% of the insulin patients,
and 17% reported vomiting, compared with just fewer than 4% of those on
Overall, roughly 19% of the patients taking exenatide withdrew from the
study because of side effects vs. just under 10% of those on insulin.
Patients receiving exenatide showed more improvement in blood glucose level
after meals compared with the long-acting insulin (glargine), yet those taking
long-acting insulin showed a greater reduction in fasting blood sugars compared
Both drugs similarly improved overall blood sugar control in people with
type 2 diabetes with less than adequate control with a combination of oral
diabetes medications, concludes the study.
The study was funded by exenatide manufacturer Eli Lilly and Co., a WebMD
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
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.