FOX 32 NEWS - Big news for diabetes sufferers: instead of injecting insulin, you now have the option of inhaling it.
At first glance it may appear Ramone Townes is using an asthma inhaler or taking a breathalyzer test. But that's not what's happening. He’s using his insulin inhaler that his doctor introduced him to just three months ago.
"Convenience, you can take it anywhere, you don't have to worry about people freaking out because you’re pulling out a needle,” Townes said.
It’s called Afrezza. It’s an inhaler to control diabetes.
The inhaled insulin was approved by the FDA in 2014. You place the insulin medication in the cartridge of the inhaler, pop it shut and then breathe in.
Dr. Nidal Hasan says insulin inhalers have been around before, but not with much success. He believes it's the improved delivery system and the fast acting insulin powder made up of micro particles that make this a good option for both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes patients.
"Those micro particles fly into the airways when patient breathes and when they reach the inner lung surfaces they dissolve into the inner lung fluid and they move quickly to the bloodstream,” Dr. Hasan said.
Afrezza is a mealtime insulin only and insulin is needed to metabolize sugar after a meal. Dr. Hasan says he's found in data from his patients that it works quickly, causing less blood sugar reaction and less weight gain which can be seen with regular insulin. But he also advises it's not for everyone.
You can't be under the age of 18, a smoker or someone who recently quit, also anyone with chronic lung issues cannot use it. But in some patients it could mean getting rid of the injections for good, or at least cutting the number of daily shots down considerably.
But Hassan believes for patients like Ramone, who were used to taking up to 4 injections a day, it may help them manage their diabetes a lot easier with a lot less hassle involved.
Because this inhaler is so new, many doctors are waiting for more data before they prescribe it.