The curtain is about to rise on one of the most talked-about opportunities in diabetes care in the last decade. After a long and trying clinical and regulatory process, Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) will soon be launching Exubera, the first commercial inhaled-insulin product, and NektarTherapeutics (NASDAQ:NKTR) stands to collect some royalty checks.

Though Nektar has been previously involved with successfully approved drug programs (in concert with companies such as Schering Plough (NYSE:SGP), Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY), and Roche), it hasn't yet been enough to move the company to profitability. So while Nektar did report nearly $30 million in revenue this quarter, its net loss surpassed that number.

I've paid attention to the biotech and pharmaceutical space for a long time now, and I don't think I've ever seen as much uncertainty about a drug as with Exubera. Optimists think it'll be a multibillion-dollar revolution in diabetes care. Others think the drug is too expensive and may end up being little more than a convenience drug for those who can afford it.

Exubera isn't the only horse in Nektar's stable, which makes evaluating the company more difficult. Lilly (NYSE:LLY) and Alkermes (NASDAQ:ALKS) have their own inhaled-insulin product in trials, as does MannKind (NASDAQ:MNKD) and Novo Nordisk (NYSE:NVO). Though I'm not particularly optimistic on the latter's potential, I do think Lilly and MannKind (or, more likely, MannKind's eventual Big Pharma marketing partner) will grab some share of whatever the market for inhaled insulin turns out to be.

In stock terms, this means that there's just too much uncertainty for me to get comfy with Nektar. In particular, I see more risk that Exubera sales might be disappointing -- or even seem that way -- than I do potential for to Exubera surprise folks.

However, even if Exubera proves "disappointing," I like Nektar's long-term outlook. One way or another, Exubera will bring in some cash flow for the company, which should help fund even more R&D programs that should pay off down the road. Consequently, I'm not too tempted to buy today -- the near-disaster of almost buying DOV Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:DOVP) is too fresh in my mind. But I'd get much more curious should the stock sell off on supposed bad news about Exubera sales later this year or next.

For more pharm-fresh Foolishness:

Pfizer is a bargain-priced Motley Fool Inside Value pick, while Lilly's healthy dividend earned it a nod from Motley Fool Income Investor. Want to know more? Click their links to try each free for 30 days!

Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).