Thursday, January 26, 2006

Major advance in diabetes treatment

This announcement from Pfizer indicating that the new inhaled form of insulin, Exubera, has been approved by the European Commission is terrific news for those affected by diabetes. Hopefully North American approvals will be coming soon.

NEW YORK, January 26 -- Pfizer Inc said today that the European Commission has approved Exubera (inhaled human insulin) for the treatment of adults with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Exubera is the first non-injectable, inhalable form of insulin to be approved since the discovery of insulin in the 1920s, and represents a major advance in diabetes treatment.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), diabetes has reached epidemic proportions and affects approximately 48 million people in Europe alone. People with diabetes often suffer from debilitating complications due to uncontrolled blood sugar levels including heart disease, amputation, blindness and kidney failure. The direct healthcare costs associated with diabetes are estimated to be around $286 billion worldwide, with the majority of these costs linked to treating diabetes-related complications.

Since its discovery more than 80 years ago, insulin has been the gold standard treatment for diabetes. In order to achieve tight blood sugar control, insulin is often administered before meals to mimic the body's natural insulin response to food. Healthcare providers and patients have been reluctant to initiate or intensify insulin therapy when it is required due to the need for daily injections.

"Exubera is a major, first-of-its-kind, medical breakthrough that marks another critical step forward in the treatment of diabetes, a disease that has taken an enormous human and economic toll worldwide," said Hank McKinnell, Pfizer chairman and chief executive officer. "The global incidence of diabetes is currently at epidemic levels. Millions of patients are not achieving or maintaining acceptable blood sugar levels, despite the availability of current therapies. Exubera meets a critical medical need by offering a highly effective and needle-free alternative to diabetes pills and insulin injections to manage this complicated, debilitating disease."

Exubera is a fast-acting, dry powder formulation of human insulin that is inhaled into the lungs via the mouth before meals using a simple-to-use, hand-held device that does not require batteries or electricity. The device, which weighs four ounces and is about the size of a carrying case for a pair of eye glasses, is designed to deliver an accurate and precise dose of insulin each time it is used.
Read the full press release

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