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Pfizer Says New Insulin Inhaler Available Next Month - Inhaled Diabetes Drug Exubera Will Cost More But Patients Gain Less Weight

June 10th 2006

Pfizer Says New Insulin Inhaler Available Next Month - Inhaled Diabetes Drug Exubera Will Cost More But Patients Gain Less Weight


In January the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Exubera, an inhaled insulin drug.  Now the drug maker, Pfizer Inc, says they hope to launch Exubera in the United States next month. 

Pfizer, the world’s largest drug maker, expects to market the product for adults with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.  Sales are expected to top $1 billion a year. 

The drug appears safe, according to Reuters.  In trials, it has been able to safely control blood sugar over a two-year period.  It is expected than many Americans will switch to this new method of introducing insulin into their body. 

There are no insulin pills because the compound is destroyed by stomach acid.  This is the reason diabetics have had to rely on injecting themselves with insulin daily.  Exubera will cost more than the current injectable type.  It may cost double or triple the current injectable insulin. 


A company called Nektar Therapeutics, makers of the delivery device, announced that they expect the product to be available by mid July.  They also said that the new data on Exubera reinforces the drug’s long-term efficacy and safety.  Nektar will receive royalties on Exubera's sales.

Pfizer presented data on their study at the 66th Annual Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association in Washington, D.C.  The findings from the two Phase III trials confirmed that people who switched from rapid-acting injectable insulin to Exubera experienced no loss of blood sugar control, according to MarketWatch.    


"As the creator of the core technologies for Exubera, we at Nektar appreciate that today's findings help to confirm that we are bringing patients a new way of treating diabetes," said John Patton, Nektar's co-founder and chief scientific officer, in a statement.

One study involved 635 adults with type 2 diabetes being treated with injected insulin, which was then randomized to either Exubera or continued injections.  The researchers compared the groups after two years.   Both groups had similar improvement or maintained their blood sugar levels. 

People using Exubera gained less weight though.  According the researchers, patients taking Exubera gained 1.7 kg (or 3.7 pounds), compared to 3 kg (6.6 pounds) in patients on the injected insulin. 


There was a side effect.  The patients that used Exubera coughed more frequently, according to Reuters.  The report says that 2.2 percent of patients dropped out of the trial because of this side effect.

Although lung function naturally drops off with age, the Exubera group saw a 1.5 percent decline compared to the injected insulin group. The researchers believe the drop in pulmonary function was non-progressive and reversible.

A second study involved 582 adult patients with type 1 diabetes.  In this study the Exubera patients gained less weight as well.  Patients gained an average of 0.8 kg (1.7 pounds), compared with 2 kg (4.4 pounds) for patients on injected insulin.

It is estimated that 15 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes.  The disease can cause heart disease, amputation, blindness, kidney failure and death.  Exubera should not be use by smokers, people with an underlying lung disease, or pregnant women.

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Dan Wilson
Best Syndication

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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                   Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:51 PM