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Sanofi Launches Only Inhaled Insulin for Diabetics

Portable inhaler delivers dry human insulin

Sanofi and MannKind Corporation have announced that Afrezza (insulin human) inhalation powder, the only inhaled insulin, is now available by prescription in U.S. retail pharmacies. The treatment was approved by the FDA to control high blood sugar in adults with type-1or type-2 diabetes.

Afrezza is a drug–device combination product that consists of a dry formulation of human insulin delivered from a small, portable inhaler to help patients achieve blood sugar control. Afrezza is rapidly absorbed and has a short duration of action.

Administered at the beginning of a meal, Afrezza dissolves rapidly upon inhalation to the lungs and delivers insulin quickly to the bloodstream. Peak insulin levels are achieved within 12 to15 minutes after administration.

Afrezza is available in four-unit and eight-unit single-dose cartridges of insulin powder that can be used, as prescribed by a health care professional, in combination with other diabetes medications to achieve target blood sugar levels. For Afrezza doses exceeding eight units, patients may use a combination of four-unit and eight-unit cartridges. Other sizes of cartridges are being considered. The disposable inhaler can be used for up to 15 days; should be kept in a clean, dry place with the mouthpiece cover on; and may be wiped with a clean, dry cloth if needed.

Afrezza can help control high blood sugar as part of a diabetes management plan, which may include diet, exercise, and other diabetes medications.

The treatment should not be used in patients with chronic lung disease, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Afrezza cannot be used to treat diabetic ketoacidosis. It is not recommended for use in patients who smoke or who have recently stopped smoking.

The labeling for Afrezza includes a boxed warning regarding the potential risk of acute bronchospasm in patients with chronic lung disease.

Sources: Sanofi; February 3, 2015; and Afrezza Prescribing Information; October 2014.

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