Breathable Medicine

Written By Luke Burgess

Posted September 9, 2005

When I was ten-years-old or so I found a syringe in the bathroom of my grandparent's house.

I was confused. Were my grandparents on drugs?

Thinking back on it, I wonder how, at such a young age, I was even aware of needle drugs. It was probably a product of sneaking an R rated film when mom and dad weren't looking.

Finding the syringe scared me. I didn't know what to think. And I didn't know how to ask my parents about it. I was afraid they'd be angry with me for some reason.

So I asked my dad about drugs. Of course he immediately freaked out. But when I finally mustered up the courage to ask him about the syringe I found at grandma's house, he face relaxed as he knew what I was really asking him.

He explained, in a way I've long forgotten, basically that my grandfather had a disease called diabetes and that he used the needle to give himself a shot of insulin.


Of course I was mortified. Needles are enemy number one to any ten-year-old.

It's estimated that more than 18 million people in the US have diabetes. This number is believed to have tripled over the past 25 years.

People with diabetes generally take insulin through shots to control their blood sugar. But now there may be an alternative.
Inhaled Insulin
A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee has voted to recommend the first inhaled form of insulin.

Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) co-developed the product, Exubera, with Nektar Therapeutics (NASDAQ:NKTR) and Sanofi-Aventis (NYSE:SNY).

Oddly enough, Brian Hicks was well ahead of the curve on Nektar Therapeutics.

When I told him that the company received FDA approval, his comment, "Oh yeah, I've been covering that company for years."

Turns out Brian had recommended Nektar in his old Cutting Edge letter 7 years ago for about $10 a share. Back then, the company was named InHale Therapeutics.

The panel recommend Exubera to treat both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. If approved, Exubera would be the first inhaled insulin product on the market and a sign of relief for diabetic needle-phobics everywhere

The FDA isn't required to act on the committee's recommendation. However, normally the agency does follow the advice of its panels.

Research indicates that the inhaled insulin is as effective as the injectible kind.

This is the kind of noninvasive medical products that will shape the future of healthcare as we know it.

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