Inhalable insulin?? Yes, you heard it right. Inhalable insulin is a concept to make the life of diabetic people much easier. Till now insulin shots are the only method to administer insulin in the body but now there is another version has been introduced in the market in the form of inhalable insulin. Let’s know what is it and what are the benefits and drawbacks of this version?
What is inhalable insulin?
This is a powder form of insulin which is administrated into the lungs with the help of a nebulizer and it is absorbed instantly. Earlier, the insulin inhaler was bigger in size (size of flashlight) which makes it less user friendly but the latest inhaler comes in a size of a little whistle. Besides that, it comes with color coded dosing cartridges so that doctor and patients can easily recognizes the different doses. It comes in three different doses which are
- 4 unit dose indicated by color blue
- 8 unit dose indicated by color green
- 12 unit doses indicated by color yellow
There are many benefits of this new version of insulin over the regular one and the main is it’s easy to use nature. here are some other benefits which are:
The formulation of this insulin is little different than the previous version of inhalable insulin. This is a fast-acting or mealtime insulin means this will act quickly on the patient who has eaten carbohydrates, to bring down the blood glucose level and then leave the body system quickly.
Easy and safe administration
It is delivered in form of insulin monomers directly into the capillary system rather than the arterial system (as in case of insulin shots) therefore it behaves more like a pancreatic insulin.
It peaks within 12-15 minutes and get out of the system within an hour as compared to other fast acting insulin which takes at least 20 minutes to start functioning, peaks within 2 – 3 hours and stays in the body for at least five hours.
Although, it is proved that this version of insulin works well but still its utilization has not spread globally because of the following reasons:
Failure of first inhalable insulin
Exubera was the first inhalable version of insulin which has failed due to its design which consist of big size as big as a flashlight. It was inconvenient to carry it around and its doses (measured in three and nine milligrams) were available in foil packets which easily get mixed up and confused patients and doctors. It was also very costly and therefore many people consider inhalable insulin as a failure without knowing that the new product Afrezza is very different in every aspect than its pioneer.
Pulmonary function test required
The patients are required to be assessed for their pulmonary function test as this inhalable insulin will be administered into lungs so it is important and necessary to get it done before using this version of insulin.
Inhalable insulin not covered much by health insurance
Many health insurance companies prefer and cover other fast acting insulin products and push this version down in the list or don’t consider it at all. Therefore, many insured patients either don’t have knowledge about it or they generally avoid it because it is not in their health insurance list.
FDA limited approval
Although it is approved by FDA as a safe product but it has not allowed the product to mention anything about reducing the occurrence of hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. The only thing mentioned about the hypoglycemia on the label is the general precautionary warning which says that taking too much insulin can be life threatening.
As we look closely, the concept of inhalable insulin is much better than the shots as it is quick to act and then get out of the system, non invasive, user friendly and portable enough to be carried in your pocket. You need to learn the skills of taking injection or shots because it is just like an asthma inhaler means put it in your mouth, inhale and you are ready to go. Consult your doctor about this new version of insulin and if it is appropriate for you. If you gets the green signal from your doctor then go ahead and make your life easy with inhalable insulin!!