An insulin inhaler manufactured by Sanofi & MannKind Corporation is now on the market. The FDA announced the approval of the Afrezza insulin inhaler in February 2015 and it is now available by prescription in the United States. This new insulin inhaler can take the place of fast acting insulin injections taken by many Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics.
The insulin inhaler uses a dry powder insulin cartridge that dispenses doses in 4-unit and 8-unit increments. The company is currently working on other dose increments. The insulin inhaler is disposable and can be used safely for 15 days as long as it is stored properly.
The new insulin inhaler is small and easily portable. This is in contrast to previous attempts at an insulin inhaler by Pfizer which was large and bulky and difficult to transport. The new insulin inhaler, pictured below, is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.
The powdered insulin is rapid acting and intended to be taken at the beginning of a meal. It peaks quickly and appears to have a shorter duration.
While this insulin inhaler won’t replace long-lasting insulin it may make before meal injections much easier for type 1 and type 2 diabetics. Some diabetics would still require a long acting or basal insulin but this could reduce the number of injections they receive per day significantly.
The cost of the insulin inhaler is reported as being roughly double that of traditional injectable insulin. The company is however offering a restricted savings card to reduce the cost of the insulin inhaler. This may be helpful in reducing the cost for those who qualify.
There are some populations that may not safely use the insulin inhaler. These include: people who smoke, have lung disease, asthma, or COPD.