Inhaled Insulin Approved by the FDA: Speaking for the OC?

A Los Angeles Times reporter contacted me yesterday for “patient feedback” on FDA approval ofExubera Exubera. That’s the inhaled insulin product jointly developed by Pfizer and Sanofi-Aventis and recently purchased by Pfizer for $1.3 Billion.

This is not the first time a reporter has found me, yet I’m still surprised to find myself a sort of default spokesperson for the OC, and I do hope I will do the community justice.

But in this case, I guess I was too honest about our highly cautious optimism on new-fangled diabetes gadgets*. I was not quoted in the story. Rather, the reporter used a quote from a woman bubbling about how excited she is over the prospect of inhaling vs. injecting (which IS exciting, if it works), and how she’s tired of toting “the world’s biggest purse to carry my insulin supplies.” Now THAT I can sympathize with!

Exuberainhaler But wait: we’ll still have to carry our glucose monitors and tablets, and the Exubera inhaler’s not looking all that much smaller than your average injection device. Hmm. No gain there, probably.

Thinking it over, I’d probably have been jumping for joy yesterday too if I hadn’t been invited to join the clinical trials for inhaled insulin a few months ago. This forced me to think long and hard about the pros and cons of trying this new insulin delivery method.

What I told the reporter is this: we’re all happy to see it move forward, yes, but no one’s been on this stuff long enough to know what the long-term respiratory effects will be. And no one’s 100% sure that dosing is as accurate as the methods we’re using now. And we don’t want to be making dosing mistakes… *AND: Remember the Glucowatch? Some products approved by the FDA still crash and burn. I do hope Exubera isn’t one of them!

So yes, it’s a BIG DAY for diabetes. Here’s hoping Pfizer can prove the long-term safety of Exubera, and work out the pricing and reimbursement issues to make this dream a reality for patients in the real world.


11 Responses

  1. Diabetes Wise
    Diabetes Wise January 28, 2006 at 10:21 am | | Reply


    No, I’m not. Amy over at Diabetes Mine has already expressed quite well some of how I feel about Exubera, the inhaled insulin that has received approval, both from the FDA and in Europe. I just don’t understand a lot

  2. Vivian
    Vivian January 28, 2006 at 3:07 pm | | Reply

    Personally, I think you did an awesome job for the OC. I am glad they are making advancements for D but there is no way at this time I would even consider this for my son.

  3. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth January 28, 2006 at 4:49 pm | | Reply

    Yes, for sure you represented my thoughts on Exubera exactly…
    but I am beginning to wonder if I am too cynical. Maybe I also need an injection of optimism to go along with my humalog.


  4. AmyT
    AmyT January 29, 2006 at 8:47 am | | Reply

    Update: I spoke with the LA Times reporter again yesterday. He says my comments were “edited out.” (Hah, therein’s the beauty of blogging, ay?)

  5. Zazzy
    Zazzy January 29, 2006 at 9:23 am | | Reply

    A friend of mine’s endo was one of the docs doing the clinicals in Australia. He is really enthusiastic about the inhaled insulin. I remain on the wait and see side myself, I’m particularly concerned because I can see people using this as a way around needle fears in children – and I think if it’s going to have a bad effect on lungs, developing lungs are more likely to be impacted.

    However, I do very much hope it proves to be helpful. Anything that gives us more options and that might improve compliance is a good thing.

  6. JasonJayhawk
    JasonJayhawk January 31, 2006 at 9:27 pm | | Reply

    Can you imagine a person scared of needles (and hence, also scared of SMBG) inhaling a load of insulin before a 1,200 Big Mac meal, and then hitting the road? It just seems too easy for a disaster to happen, and it might make more laws making it difficult for a responsible T1 to get a driver’s license.

  7. The LIVabetes Glucose Goddess
    The LIVabetes Glucose Goddess February 1, 2006 at 7:42 pm | | Reply

    I’m with you Amy!
    Not sure what benefits there are switching from one form of treatment to another unless of course you are belonaphobic?

    Hey, What about an “INSULIN SUPPOSITORY”?

    I don’t know why I always have to come up with the ideas!

    Love ya,

  8. The Biotech Weblog
    The Biotech Weblog February 7, 2006 at 2:07 am | | Reply

    Grand Rounds Vol. 2. No.20

    This week’s compendium of the best in medical blogging is hosted at Science and Politics. The entries are excellently organized into distinct categories, making it easier (for me) to scan for biotech-related entries: From DiseaseProof: Reversing Heart …

  9. dr alan flores
    dr alan flores February 18, 2006 at 10:15 am | | Reply

    We discuss your post at a radio program we have here in Monterrey Mexico.

    I think we have the same problem. People is afraid of needles. So hearing about a new way to administrate insulin, was great news.

    But we talk in the radio program, that we need more studies, and I mention some of yuour info here.

    The people believe that the needles are gone.

  10. Aaron
    Aaron February 21, 2006 at 6:26 pm | | Reply

    I agree
    although i’m confused on the benefits on switching treatments.

  11. Diabetes Wise
    Diabetes Wise March 17, 2006 at 5:17 am | | Reply


    No, I’m not. Amy over at Diabetes Mine has already expressed quite well some of how I feel about Exubera, the inhaled insulin that has received approval, both from the FDA and in Europe. I just don’t understand a lot

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