I just read that Pfizers new drug Exubera (where do they come up with these weird names anyway?) has been approved by an FDA Panel and is expected to gain full FDA approval. What is Exubera and why are diabetics so interested in this new drug?
There are over 18 million diabetics in the United States alone, a mix of juvenile diabetes and adult-onset diabetes, and a large percentage of them are trapped having to take daily insulin injections, a process that’s painful, a hassle and sufficiently tedious that doctors estimate that a significant minority of diabetics don’t follow the treatment plan they’re prescribed, to their detriment.
Exubera, from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, is the first inhalant insulin drug that will let patients treat their diabetes as easily as current asthma sufferers use inhalants to keep their illness in check.
This is very big news both for diabetics, who are poised to see a much brighter, easier treatment ahead of them, and for Pfizer itself; some industry analysts believe that sales of Exubera will amount to more than $2 billion annually for Pfizer. I’m sure their shareholders are exuberant indeed.
If you track the pharmaceutical industry, it’s interesting to note that there are still some concerns about the health impact on patient’s lungs (the vote was only 7-2 in favor of approving Exubera, not 9-0) and, more importantly, Exubera represents the first of a series of drugs in the pipeline that offer greater convenience for patients, but no additional treatment benefits, per se. Traditionally, the FDA has been more interested in improving health care rather than simplifying health care, so other pharma companies are definitely paying close attention to this approval process.
Finally, if you’re a diabetic or know someone who is, you can learn more about Exubera at Diabetes Monitor.com, but be aware: it’s not yet fully FDA approved, and there’s not yet a lot of information available online. But it’s coming. In fact, I predict that Exubera is going to be a veritable gold rush with its billion dollar market and the backing of one of the largest pharmacological companies in the world.
And that’s going to be very good news for a lot of diabetics.