Afrezza-Technosphere-insulin

Would You Inhale Your Insulin?

Paris-based diabetes company Sanofi has launched a new inhalable insulin to potentially turn around their year of diminished diabetes drug sales. The product is called Afrezza and is about the size of a whistle, fitting easily in a patient’s hand.

Inhalable insulin is a form of human insulin that has been powdered, and is absorbed through the lungs after inhalation. The powdered form of insulin works much faster than the injectable counterpart and is also much more convenient than injections, for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Sanofi has recently been in turmoil financially, after CEO Chris Viehbacher left in October. He was ousted after quarterly reports were lower than expected, and also his lack of strategy or communication with the rest of the board. However, the company has recently gained ground, their quarterly report showing a sharp rise in profits, due in part to lower charges.

Afrezza is the successor to a previous attempt at inhalable insulin by Pfizer, called Exubera. Pfizer’s product was recalled after about a year, because of its large and inconvenient size, possible association with lung cancer, and overall low sales.

Sanofi’s Afrezza will be sold for $7.54 for a daily dose of 12 units, which is more than Sanofi’s injectable counterpart, Apidra, which is $3.14. According to industry analysts, Afrezza will earn about $185 million in 5 years, a modest profit when viewed in Sanofi’s annual sales of $7 billion.

There are some dangers that come with an inhalable powder, as seen in Exubera, which was associated with lung cancer, although it was never completely proven, as only 6 of the 4,292 patients developed lung cancer.

People who smoke or who have recently quit smoking should also be cautious about using Afrizza, as well as people who have asthma, as the powder might cause complications in patients.

Sanofi hopes that this new product and an improved version of their insulin, called Toujeo, will raise their profits, as the patent on Lantus insulin, the most prescribed insulin in the world, will expire this year, making sales growth look less likely.

This new product is only further proof that diabetes technology and medicine will keep improving throughout this century.

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