Sanofi and MannKind have launched an inhalable insulin product, Afrezza, in the US.
The treatment, which has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to control high blood sugar in adults with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, is now available in retail pharmacies around the country.
Afrezza is a drug-device combination product that enables patients to control their blood sugar levels using a dry formulation of human insulin delivered by a small and portable inhaler.
Normally administered at the start of a meal, Afrezza is rapidly absorbed and has a short duration of action - peak insulin levels are achieved within 12-15 minutes of administration.
It is available in four-unit and eight-unit single-dose cartridges of insulin powder that can be used, as prescribed by a health care professional, along with other diabetes medications to achieve target blood sugar levels. The disposable inhaler can be used for up to 15 days.
Afrezza can be administered as part of a diabetes management plan that may include diet, exercise and other medications.
However, it is not suitable for use by patients with chronic lung disease such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, to treat diabetic ketoacidosis or by smokers and those who have recently stopped smoking.
"Afrezza is an important addition to Sanofi's growing diabetes portfolio of integrated, personalised offerings, and it is one that highlights our dedication to bringing innovative therapies to people with this disease," said Pierre Chancel, senior vice-president of the diabetes division at Sanofi.
"There is a recognised need for an insulin that doesn't require an injection, and our organisation is committed to making this new treatment option available to patients."