Is There an Inhaled Version of Insulin?
I've just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. My healthcare provider wants me to take insulin, but I'm terrified of needles. I thought there was an inhaled version of insulin. If not, what happened to it?
Exubera®, an inhaled insulin, was developed by Pfizer, Inc., and was available in the United States from September 2006 until October 2007. It was withdrawn from the market because of low sales.
There were several issues with Exubera that may have contributed to its low popularity. The inhaler was large (about the size of a can of tennis balls) and awkward to operate. Its dosing was in milligrams (mg) and required a confusing translation from insulin dosing, with 1 mg equal to 3 units of insulin and 3 mg equal to 8 units of insulin. Doses could only be in increments of 1 mg (3 units), which didn't allow for finer dose adjustments.
Smokers were told they needed to stop smoking to use Exubera, and questions about its use for people with asthma or other lung diseases remained. Perhaps the most important reason that Exubera failed is that it did not improve blood sugar control any better than other available insulin.
Many people who use insulin find that the needles are so small that injections cause very little pain or discomfort, and are easy to carry in a purse or small case.