Inhaled Insulin: Biotech Triumph or Future Flop?

The Motley Fool's health-care show Market Checkup focuses this week on diabetes, one of America's growing health-care concerns. There are two versions of this chronic disease, the more prevalent being type 2 diabetes, which makes up about 95% of all cases. Because of the overwhelming patient population, type 2 diabetes receives the majority of attention from Big Pharma companies.

Diabetes is no small problem. In 2010, one in 10 adults had diabetes, and more troubling, more than one in four senior citizens suffered from it. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death, and there are 2 million new cases in America every year, leading analysts to project spending on diabetes to approach $60 billion in just five years. And this isn't just an American problem: 370 million suffer from diabetes around the world.

In this video, health-care analysts David Williamson and Max Macaluso discuss the cutting edge of insulin treatments, including a new inhalable insulin in development by MannKind. Shares of the biotech went on a huge run before its latest phase 3 trial results. Watch and learn about the history of inhaled insulin, along with David and Max's thoughts about whether investors should hop on MannKind's bandwagon or be careful with this biotech run-up. 

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Read/Post Comments (9) | Recommend This Article (3)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On July 07, 2013, at 2:40 PM, pommerac wrote:

    And what do they know?

  • Report this Comment On July 07, 2013, at 3:59 PM, bufnyfan1 wrote:

    I totally disagree with somethings that were said--first diabetics were asked if they would like to use something that avoids the painful injections they have to endure day after day---87% said YES-second diabetics fear hypoglycemic "lows" that occur quite frequently and can be life threatening-Afreeza lessens the chance of these--I still believe once Afreeza goes to market it will change the way diabetes is treated

  • Report this Comment On July 07, 2013, at 9:08 PM, noelnavarro wrote:

    This video is a complete nonsense. There is no comparison between Afrezza and Exubera. The only similarity between the two is that they both happen to be inhaled. It's like comparing Ferrari to a Ford Fiasta, the only similarity between the two is that they both have four wheels. Consider the following:

    (1) Afrezza will be the first and only insulin product in the market that will treat both type 1 diabetes and early stage type 2 diabetes all the way through late stage of type 2.

    (2) Afrezza will be the first ultra-rapid acting insulin that mimics the normal insulin response seem in a healthy person. It mimics the normal healthy pancreas in the most natural way.

    (3) Afrezza significantly reduces hypoglycemia. Over 6,000 clinical patients have used Afrezza and not a single case of hypoglycemia.

    (4) Afrezza does not cause weight gain, which is a huge problem with traditional treatments.

    (5) Afrezza simplifies the treatment of diabetes. The need for constantly measuring ones blood sugar level is eliminated and the need to measure the insulin dosage needed is also eliminated. The delivery device "Dreamboat" has pre-determined dosage amount and is disposable after two weeks.

    (6) Afrezza is cheaper or within the $2,000 average annual cost of treating diabetes.

    (7) Afrezza happens to be inhaled, which is the no-brainer added benefit to this product.

    (8) Afrezza has no clinically meaningful impact on lung function (per published past data: Dreamboat 0.5% vs. Exubera 1.7%).

    Afrezza truely is a breakthrough drug that will not only save lives, but will significantly improve the health and quality of life of the half a billion diabetics globally. Amputation as it relates to diabetics will be a thing of the past. Afrezza could very well be the most valuable drug of our contemporary time. This is an important event in humanity's history.

    Anyone who compares Afrezza and Exubera clearly has not performed their due diligence. These two fools have no credibility, and have demonstrated their lack of knowledge in the subject matter.

  • Report this Comment On July 07, 2013, at 10:13 PM, bronx wrote:

    Sounded more like the Bert and Ernie show rather than a honest discussion about the potential of Afrezza. Both speakers were completely wrong and they need to do a lot more fact checking before speaking. Afrezza is going to be the first non injected insulin to become available in over 80 years that will offer superior efficacy, improved safety and revolutionary convenience. It will actually be the only insulin that more closely mimics the way insulin in naturally regulated in the body by the pancreas, will be the first insulin introduced into early Type II and it has no lasting lung damage issues. I also have to laugh by two comments made during the video the first one comparing eye glasses, contacts and eye surgery to replacing injections which everyone hates to a much more user friendly inhaled device and the second comment about Mannkind stock having run up in price so much that it is now a bad investment. Both comments are ridiculous, amateurish and pathetic. Anyone who has taken the time to research Mannkind and Afrezza knows exactly why the drugs approval has been delayed to get the right commercial delivery device approved Dreamboat, why the drug should not be compared in anyway to Exubera and why the future potential of Afrezza can make it one of the best selling drugs of all time, possibly being compared one day to Lipitor. Get your facts straight and don't cherry pick what you want to discuss just to support your point of view.

  • Report this Comment On July 08, 2013, at 12:18 AM, Oliverleslie wrote:

    They forgot to mention how the protein (peptide/insulin) is most effective when injected into the fat, into the bloodstream. Inhalants travel through the digestive process and the molecule (insulin) is compromised if not made moot, useless altogether. An inhalant will never be as effective as an injection, just like a pill is not.

    The lab made insulin, for injecting is uber fragile to begin with.


  • Report this Comment On July 08, 2013, at 2:51 AM, mbracket123 wrote:

    Wow, Motley Fool if you really want to stay relevant why don't you start curating your contributors. As most of the earlier commenters have made clear, these guys are uneducated (in this company and the diabetic problem set in general) and come across as completely ignorant.

    The site has been deteriorating into a pump blog site for some time. If that is what you are shooting for, congrats you made it. If someone on the team yearns for the days when thoughtful analysis ruled, please take the lead or you will soon join the ranks of most tired sites - deceased.


  • Report this Comment On July 08, 2013, at 3:46 AM, noelnavarro wrote:

    @OliverLeslie, please note that Afrezza is delivered through Mannkind's Technosphere Insulin. Technosphere has been shown to deliver insulin to the bloodstream with a pharmacokinetic profile characterized by a rapid rise in plasma insulin concentration that is much faster than subcutaneous insulin injection. Technosphere is not just some inhalant that a patient would swallow. It delivers insulin directly into the bloodstream, not through the digestive system as you incorrectly indicated. The use of Technosphere has been clinically proven in the past to be a more effective way to deliver drugs into the bloodstream than the traditional way of injecting it. Please do some research before making a blanket statement.

  • Report this Comment On July 08, 2013, at 8:44 AM, Oliverleslie wrote:

    @ noel navvarro - I don't see how something you inhale is not compromised by all the dynamics of the digestive system, the saliva which breaks down food (enzymes that breakdown enzymes etc. The "physics" of it if you will, seem to afford an injection less interference with the molecule - not to mention whatever propulsion dynamic is involved with getting the aerosol type (?) product out of the container. I just don't see or get, how an inhalant goes "directly" to the blood. ???

    I understand how some pills, when taken sub lingual, provides a more direct line to the blood than just sending it to the stomach etc - the inhalant method would seem more difficult to direct the molecules to their destination

    It just doesn't add up - and it doesn't help that you say "clinically proven" - or "has been shown"

  • Report this Comment On July 08, 2013, at 11:38 AM, vrdjs wrote:

    This is a typical and boring Afrezza smear piece. These guys always go to Exubera first, then they talk aobut the FDA rejection, then they talk about the stock being over valued, bla, bla, bla. How these people keep their jobs is beyond me when they refuse to do ANY type of meaningful research on this future life changing product. I for one hope they continue and that other misguided fools believe them, driving the stock down and making it more affordable to those of us who actually understand the drug and want to strengthen our position.

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