Sanofi and Mannkind Corporation have launched an inhalable insulin product — Afrezza — in the United States.
The product is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to control high blood sugar in adults with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The dry insulin powder is administered through an inhaler before meals.
Afrezza dissolves rapidly upon inhalation to the lung and delivers insulin quickly to the bloodstream, says Sanofi. Peak insulin levels are achieved within 12–15 minutes of administration, according to the company.
The product should not be used by patients with chronic lung disease, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, because of the risk of acute bronchospasm. It is also not recommended for smokers or patients who have recently stopped smoking.
Afrezza is available in single-dose cartridges of 4 and 8 units. For doses exceeding 8 units, patients are advised to use a combination of the available cartridges. The disposable inhaler can be used for up to 15 days.
“There is a recognised need for an insulin that doesn’t require an injection,” says Pierre Chancel, senior vice president diabetes division at Sanofi. “Our organization is committed to making this new treatment option available to patients.”
The launch comes seven years after Pfizer withdrew its inhaled insulin product in October 2007 for commercial reasons. The manufacturer said at the time that the insulin powder inhaler Exubera failed to win the acceptance of patients and doctors even though the company had predicted world-wide sales.