Rethinking Healthcare

Inhale your diabetes medicine

Inhale your diabetes medicine

Posting in Food

The inhaled insulin is called AFREZZA, and while it failed to win FDA approval early this year, creator Mannkind Corp. is claiming its solution provides better glucose control for serious cases than the twice-daily injections now being used.

Instead of injecting yourself with insulin you may soon be able to inhale it, the way asthmatics take their medicine.

That's just one of the headlines at this weekend's Americans Diabetes Association meeting in Orlando, expected to draw 15,000 scientists, and an accompanying special issue of England's The Lancet.

The inhaled insulin is called AFREZZA, and while it failed to win FDA approval early this year, creator Mannkind Corp. is claiming its solution provides better glucose control for serious cases than the twice-daily injections now being used. (Image from Mannkind, founded by philanthropist Al Mann.)

There is also good news about a drug called dapagliflozin, which works independently of insulin. It could be a replacement for metformin when that drug does not work.It's considered flexible and a "good add-on" by scientists interviewed at the Orlando meeting.

The biggest headline may be a Lancet editorial, more of a rant really, which calls Type II diabetes "a public health humiliation."

The phrase was chosen because the disease is easily preventable through proper diet and lifestyle choices, yet 285 million people now have it, most of them poor people who will never benefit from treatments like those being described this week.

Instead, the magazine says, a societal approach is needed. The editorial praises the Administration's Let's Move campaign but shows barely-contained rage toward multinational food corporations:

To help Americans make better choices more easily, the US Department of Agriculture released updated dietary guidelines on June 15 that aim to shift consumption towards more plant-based foods. By contrast, on the same day in Brussels (and amid intense lobbying by multinational food corporations), the European Parliament rejected plans to aid consumers by labelling food with a health traffic-light system.

The editorial also suggests that urban planners in the developing world insist on space for, and advocacy of, physical fitness. "The focus on youth in a disorder that is age-related might seem paradoxical; but the age of diabetes onset is falling and it is in young people that diet and exercise habits are formed."

The diabetes fight shows in microcosm the real problems in health reform. Critics may call what The Lancet advocates a "nanny state." But the present path of medication is financially self-defeating.

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Dana Blankenhorn

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Dana Blankenhorn has written for the Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age's "NetMarketing" supplement and founded the Interactive Age Daily for CMP Media. He holds degrees from Rice and Northwestern universities. He is based in Atlanta. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure