NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There’s an exciting development for people who take insulin to control their diabetes. There’s a new way to do it — largely replacing needles with an inhaler.
That simple process is how Type-1 Diabetic Bradley Saveth now takes most of the insulin that keeps his blood sugar under control. It’s a huge difference from what he used to do.
“I probably took eight to ten shots of insulin per day and followed it up with 12 or so finger sticks,” he tells CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez.
In addition to those finger sticks to check blood sugar levels, diabetics who need insulin have to carry around vials of the hormone, syringes, and needles — and then inject themselves multiple times a day, especially right before meals. Life comes to a halt several times a day.
“You have to do it at the moment when you’re ready to eat,” says Dr. Anastasios Manessis from the Endocrine Associates of the West Village. “You have to check your sugars, you have to give insulin. Not only that, you have to take it 15 to 20 minutes before you eat in order to cover the elevation of sugars after you eat.”
Now. there’s a much easier way to take the fast-acting insulin diabetics need at meal time. It’s called Afrezza — and it’s inhaled. What makes it possible is a unique combination of molecules that micro-encapsulate the fragile insulin, protecting it until it gets deep into the lungs where it dissolves and released into the bloodstream.
“It acts faster so there’s more leeway with when you take it,” says Manessis. “It’s very short acting. There’s less risk of too low blood sugar level, which is also dangerous.”
Saveth still injects long acting insulin once or twice a day, but he uses Afrezza instead of the half dozen or more injections of short acting insulin he used to take every day.
“I gotta tell you, I don’t even feel like a diabetic anymore,” he said. “It changed my life.”
Afrezza can be used with both type-1 and type-2 diabetes but it may not be right for all diabetics. Those with asthma or other lung problems won’t absorb it right and it can cause a cough.
Still, some patients say they actually get better blood sugar control with inhalable insulin because they hated needles.