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FDA Considers New Insulin Inhaler

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An insulin inhaler that may offer a more convenient alternative to insulin injections for people with diabetes is being considered for approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The palm-sized inhaler contains an insulin powder called Afresa, which dissolves in the lungs and then travels the bloodstream, The New York Times reported. The device and powder were developed by California-based MannKind Corporation, which is asking the FDA to approve the system's use in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

"The patient's breathing action does the job," Matthew J. Pfeffer, chief financial officer at MannKind, told the Times. "The airflow through the cartridge allows the powder to be inhaled."

Patients put insulin doses -- pre-packaged in cartridges -- into the inhaler and turn the mouthpiece to release the insulin. The inhaler uses no electricity or compressed gas. "The patient's breathing action does the job," Pfeffer said. "The airflow through the cartridge allows the powder to be inhaled."

An insulin inhaler introduced by Pfizer in 2006 was taken off the market less than two years later due to poor sales. The inhaler was too large and awkward, according to some experts, the Times said.

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October 13, 2009 - 6:10am
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