FDA approves new form of insulin that can be inhaled

By Jennifer Pilgrim,

Friday marked another step forward for the millions of Americans who struggle with diabetes and manage their blood sugar with insulin. The Food and Drug Administration has approved a form of insulin to be inhaled, rather than injected via needle. The drug Afrezza, developed by MannKind Corporation, was approved for adults with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.

Friday's approval comes more than three years after the FDA first asked MannKind to run additional clinical studies on the drug, reports USA Today. Roughly 347 million people worldwide have diabetes. Diabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke, blindness, and even death if not maintained.

Afrezza is an insulin powder in a single-use cartridge. It is designed to be inhaled at the beginning of a meal, or within 20 minutes after first consumption. The drug can achieve peak insulin levels within 12 to 15 minutes, claims MannKind. An injection of insulin typically takes an hour and a half or more to reach peak levels.

However, Afrezza does come with the strongest warning, that people with asthma or other lung issues should not use it, because of the risk of bronchospasms, reports the New York Times. Mannkind is in the process of conducting research concerning long-term effects Afrezza has on lungs.

MannKind is also in the process of providing the drug to the widespread public through agreements with a partner to help market Afrezza.

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