The days of diabetics having to inject themselves with insulin may be coming to an end thanks to the efforts of California-based pharmaceutical company, MannKind. The company’s signature product is called Afrezza and is showing excellent results in late stage human trials. Unlike traditional insulin, Afrezza is a powder and is taken through the use of a small inhaler before a meal.
Interestingly, this is not the first time someone has tried to create or market an inhalable form of insulin. In 2007, Pfizer quit selling its Exubera insulin powder because of weak sales after less than two years. Exubera didn’t do well, mostly because insurers wouldn’t pay for it, saying it was too expensive and didn’t work for many patients. Eli Lilly & Co. and Novo Nordisk both ended inhaled insulin programs in 2008.
Alfred Mann, MannKind’s chairman and CEO,has spent about $930 million of his own money on developing Afrezza since the company was founded in 1991. If things continue to progress on time, Afrezza could come to market in the second quarter of 2014 and it should cost about $2000 per year, about the same as current insulin pens. If the cost is comparable, insurance companies will be more likely to cover it and if it works better than older products, this could have a major affect on both the market and the health and comfort of diabetics.
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