Exubera, a new form of insulin that could revolutionize diabetic treatment has been rejected by the NHS on account of high cost. The drug can be inhaled and provides an ideal alternative to the daily insulin injections taken by numerous diabetics, worldwide.
Patients with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes can use the new form of insulin. The annual cost associated with this form of insulin has been projected to be Ģ1,100 per person. The main disadvantage of this insulin form is the high cost and the need for insulin injections in the night.
Exubera represents the first ever non-injected option for insulin therapy. Although the use of insulin for treatment for diabetes has been discovered as early as 1920s, no such non-injected option for insulin therapy has been developed until now. Daily injections are still the only form of treatment for more than 800, 000 people in Britain.
The European licensing has approved the new form of insulin. Although clinical trials have demonstrated that inhaled insulin is equally effective in controlling blood sugar levels, the draft guidance by the watchdog the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence for England and Wales was disappointing.
According to Charity Diabetes UK, such a medical breakthrough should not be restricted on the basis of cost and the new development should be accessible to everyone. 'Many people with diabetes will be deeply disappointed that they are being denied this alternative form of treatment. There is an urgent need for more research to support the improvements made by using inhaled insulin on quality of life,' said a spokesperson for the organization.
'NICE has dismissed the robust scientific and medical evidence used by international medical experts in the US and Europe to grant widespread approval for this medicine. The choice here is quite simple: force patients to keep enduring the burden of multiple daily injections and poor compliance, as they have since the 1920s, or give them an alternative,' responded Pfizer, a leading pharmaceutical that had manufactured the drug.
As the guidance issued by NICE has not been finalized, the general public and health care professionals have been urged to voice their opinion regarding the issue, before a final statement is published in October.
'Our review of the evidence indicated that inhaled insulin should not be recommended because it could not be proven to be more clinically or cost effective than existing treatments. The clinical experts we asked advised us that using injected insulin is not usually a concern for the majority of people with diabetes,' said Andrea Sutcliffe, deputy chief executive at NICE and executive lead for the appraisal.