Inhaled Insulin

On January 27, 2006, the FDA approved the inhaled insulin Exubera® for use in adults with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. This follows the September 2005 FDA advisory panel recommendedation for approval.

Inhaled insulin acts much like injected rapid acting insulin analogs (NovoLog, Humalog, Apidra) and is used to cover mealtime carbohydrates. People with type 1 diabetes who use inhaled insulin must still take injections of a long acting basal insulin, such as Lantus or Detemir.

Study after study has shown that inhaled insulin works well and that study participants, with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, like inhaled insulin. While the long term effects of inhaled insulin are not known, studies to date indicate that there is little if any impact on lung function for healthy people.

Some people, particularly parents of young kids with type 1 diabetes, are quite concerned about the potential for lung damage from decades of use. We won't be able to answer these concerns until inhaled insulin has been in use for many years. In the meantime, if inhaled insulin helps people type 2 diabetes get on insulin therapy sooner than they would otherwise, it has the potential to help more people achieve better control, and that is good for all of us.

-- JSH

FDA Information

Selected Studies About Inhaled Insulin

Industry Links


The Exubera inhaler, collapsed (left) and expanded (right), with blister packs of insulin in front.

When closed, the inhaler is about the size of an eyeglass case. The inhaler weighs four ounces (about 114 grams).

Exubera logo and images from Facts About Exubera by Pfizer.

February 5, 2006

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Last Updated: Mon Feb 20 21:03:59 2006
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