Don't Give Up Hope!
One roadblock wont stop race to a cure
Well, it's gone. The first inhaled insulin has left the marketplace.
When I first learned that Pfizer Inc., the largest drug maker in the world, had dropped their support for Exubera, the first inhaled insulin, my heart sank. I truly believed that this product was going to usher in a new era in diabetes treatment. It wasn't a perfect item, but I hoped that its presence on the market would encourage other companies to research different forms of insulin. Just imagine…insulin candies or Listerine-type insulin breath strips that dissolve under your tongue. Wow. The sky was going to be the limit.
But, after spending close to $3 billion (gasp!) on Exubera, Pfizer called it quits.
My buddy David Kliff, publisher of Diabetic Investor, brought up several worrisome points when I called to discuss Pfizer's decision. He said that the failure could scare others away from bringing new forms of inhaled insulin to the marketplace and that consumers might also become more wary of newer products. After all, Exubera was a bust, so why should they trust their health to another brand of inhaled insulin?
David believed that Pfizer's marketing strategy was flawed from the very beginning. Pfizer knew that it had a good medication, but they didn't pay attention to the needs of insulin users or physicians. Doctors found it time consuming to instruct patients on how to use the inhaler and convert their injected insulin doses to an inhaled dosing scale. The inhaler, the size of a half-liter bottle, was cumbersome and the cost of Exubera was very high at about $600 a year more than injected insulin.
Now the ball is in our court. If we want new advances to come onto the scene, we have to let everyone know that we are willing to keep an open mind and evaluate each product on its own merit. To help accomplish this, try the following:
- Write letters of support to individual manufacturers.
- Share your thoughts with your health care team. Pharmaceutical representatives visit medical offices regularly and can learn how you feel when they meet with the staff.
- Email a diabetes organization, such as the American Diabetes Association at diabetes.org or the Diabetes Research Institute at diabetesresearch.org, and let them know that you support ongoing research to develop new insulin delivery systems.
- Participate in research studies that test new forms of insulin. Visit clinicaltrials.gov to search for studies that are recruiting in your area.
Don't let the failure of Exubera discourage you. Keep an open mind and look to the future. With your voice, we can support new research and develop new and improved treatments that will, one day, lead us all to a cure.
Janis Roszler, RD, CDE, LD/N
NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.
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