A Los Angeles Times reporter contacted me yesterday for “patient feedback” on FDA approval of 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!
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.