Inhaled insulin

Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 1999 Feb 1;35(2-3):235-247. doi: 10.1016/s0169-409x(98)00074-x.


Inhalation of regular insulin for meal time glucose control has been found to be safe, efficacious and reliable in Type I and Type II diabetics. The administration of regular insulin through the human lungs by inhalation has been conducted in at least 14 short studies in both normal and diabetic subjects beginning as early as 1925. In all studies, significant insulin absorption and lowering of blood glucose was observed in the absence of penetration enhancers. Although a concern of variable dosing was raised in early studies, the development of new reproducible delivery systems has ensured that the variability of aerosol insulin can be as good, if not better, than subcutaneous (SC) injection. In the longest controlled studies in humans to date, both Type I and Type II insulin-dependent diabetics used a novel inhaled dry powder insulin delivery system for 3 months for meal time glucose control. The study results indicate that inhaled insulin provides equivalent glucose control, measured by hemoglobin A1c, when directly compared to SC injection. Interim results from an additional study with Type II diabetics who were failing oral hypoglycemic agents suggest that adjunctive therapy with inhaled insulin markedly improved glycemic control with a low risk of hypoglycemia. In all the 3 month studies the system was efficacious, well tolerated, well liked, and resulted in reproducible results. A potential advantage of aerosol insulin is that it is more rapidly absorbed (serum peak at 5-60 min) and cleared than SC injection (peak at 60-150 min), which provides a more relevant and convenient therapy for meal time glucose control. The relative efficiency of insulin delivery by aerosol, compared to SC injection, has been estimated from the dose measured at the exit point of the aerosol device, and found to range between 8 and 25% of SC, depending on the study.