Insulin Alternative

Many diabetics need insulin to control their disease. Soon, that prospect could be a little less prickly.

A new insulin called Exubra will hit pharmacies in September. Dr. Alan Wynne of the Cotton-O'Neil Diabetes Center says it's the first time in the 85-year history of diabetes and insulin that it's possible to take insulin therapy without injections.

That's because Exubra is inhaled. The FDA approved it for adults in March. The Cotton-O'Neil Diabetes Learning Center is among places rolling it out early, due to special training received by Cheryl Snyder, RN, a Certified Diabetes Educator.

Snyder says using Exubra is easy. You simply insert a bubble pac with the appropriate does of insulin into the device. You cock a handle to pressurize the chamber, releasing the insulin. You then press a button and open a mouthpiece, which you put in your mouth to breath in the insulin dose. Wynne says the insulin particles are disbursed through the lungs and the respiratory tree, with the small vessels absorbing it into the blood stream..

Both Wynne and Snyder hope the new option will convince people to get treatment for diabetes. They say many people avoid seeing the doctor because of their fear of needles. Snyder says some studies show, on average, a person will bargain with their doctor for two years to avoid insulin.

Diabetics still won't be able to toss all the needles. The inhaled insulin is shorter-acting, so Wynne says type one diabetics and some with type two will still need one long-acting shot a day.

People also will still have to pay attention to themselves. Snyder says you still have to check your blood sugars and you still have to know what their number are. She says it won't take away the work of managing the illness.

You can't use inhaled insulin if you smoke, or have uncontrolled asthma or emphysema. Also, it's only approved for people over the age of 18.

The Cotton-O'Neil Diabetes Center is doing clinical trials on two other brands of inhaled insulin awaiting FDA approval. If you're interested in participating, call (785) 368-0744.


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