Needles No More: FDA Approves Inhalable Insulin For Diabetics

On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration approved inhalable insulin medication for diabetes patients.

Los Angeles-based inventor Alfred Mann worked on the inhalable insulin for more than 10 years and has used almost $1 billion of his own money for the development of the drug. Mann’s company, MannKind Corp., got approval from the FDA to sell Afrezza.

Afrezza is geared towards patients with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. The LA Times, however, reported that diabetes patients who also have lung disease or asthma couldn’t use the inhalable insulin.

Diabetes patients who inject insulin typically have to wait about 30 minutes or more before the insulin takes effect. With Afrezza, peak insulin levels can be achieved within 12 to 15 minutes of inhalation.

Afrezza is an insulin power that comes in a cartridge. Diabetes patients who want to control their blood sugar levels before meals can use it. It is a quicker and more convenient way of controlling insulin without having to use a needle.

“We are excited for patients,” said Mann. He said that Afrezza will be the answer for the many needs of diabetics and it will also has a potential to revolutionize the way diabetes is treated.

Afrezza’s development took a long time and cost a lot of money, but it is all worth it. Overall, MannKinds Corp. has spent around $1.8 billion for the development of the inhalable insulin, with around $975 million coming from Mann’s own pockets. Majority of the money was used for over 60 clinical trials that tested the insulin powder on around 6,500 diabetes patients.

Before Friday’s approval, Afrezza was already denied by the FDA twice. “I have never considered abandoning the effort because I firmly believe that Afrezza has the potential to bring significant benefits to the still growing and enormous population of people with diabetes,” Mann said.

Reports indicate that diabetes affects about 29.1 million people in the U.S. alone, while there are about 382 million all over the world who suffer from diabetes. With the numbers, the inhalable insulin has a big potential to be a commercial success.

Although the insulin powder was approved, the FDA also stated that it is not a substitute for long-acting insulin and it is just a new option for those who want to control their sugar levels during meals, CBS News reported.

RBC Capital Markets analyst Adnan Butt said that Afrezza is a convenient alternative to insulin shots and that annual sales of the inhalable insulin can be anywhere from $5 billion to $7 billion.

[Image via CBS News]