Saturday, November 10, 2007


Insulin plans

Rupali Mukherjee

The India plan of the world's first inhaled insulin — Pfizer's block-buster drug, Exubera, has been called off days before its proposed launch. This follows the parent's recent decision to stop manufacturing the drug due to sluggish sales worldwide.

"We will not bring the product to India now after the parent's decision. The launch, which was planned for this month, has been dropped as the drug has not met with a good response worldwide", a company executive told The Times of India.

Pfizer recently announced that it will be returning the worldwide rights for Exubera to Nektar, the company from which it licensed the inhaled insulin technology.

"We will not be launching the product in India or any other country where the product has not been launched as yet", a Pfizer India spokesperson added. Pfizer Inc has stopped manufacturing of the device at its plant in Indiana, in which it has already invested over $300m.

"This announcement is not a product recall, nor the result of any specific safety signal that would put patients at risk. While Exubera remains a safe and effective medicine, it simply has not met customer or financial expectations", the spokesperson added.

In India, a few patients have been prescribed Exubera by their treating physicians. Pfizer has said that it will support these patients for the next three months, and then help them to switch to other glucose-lowering therapies.

There is a huge segment of diabetics in India who need to take injectable insulin. About 30-35% of type II diabetics need some sort of insulin, and every diabetic will certainly receive insulin at some point of time, experts pointed out.

Type II diabetes is non insulin-dependent diabetes, obesity related and a metabolic disorder. According to the Diabetes Atlas 2007, there are approximately 40.8 million diagnosed patients with diabetes in India.

Industry experts pointed out that though inhalable insulin holds lot of promise, there are still questions on its long-term use. In Pfizer's case, the device to deliver insulin was also not too user-friendly.

Anoop Misra, director and head, Department of Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases, Fortis Hospital, says, "I still think inhaled insulin is very attractive concept especially for Indians who have sort of phobia for injections. Easy handling and dosage option of apparatus in future would make it more acceptable to patients".

Other Oral Insulin Plans

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