Dubai: Millions of diabetes patients worldwide can now breathe easy with the US Food and Drug Administration yesterday giving the green light to the sale of the first insulin inhaler.

Doctors in the UAE welcomed the approval of Exubera, saying it will be a boon to diabetic children who require daily injections for survival. Diabetes is a major concern in the UAE and children with the condition require a minimum two insulin shots every day.

Dr Dinesh Kumar Dhanwal, endocrinologist with Zulekha Hospital, told Gulf News that though the new therapy will replace only short-acting insulin, "the major apprehension of patients was daily injections."

While certain existing devices can replace the chore of daily injections, they do not achieve the blood sugar targets for patients, he said.

Made by Pfizer, the drug marks the first new way apart from injections to administer the hormone since it was identified in the 1920s, the FDA said in a statement. The new drug's safety and efficacy were studied in approximately 2,500 adult patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, the statement said.

Therapy to hit UAE markets in two years

  • Exubera will be available in the UAE where 25 per cent of the population suffer from the debilitating disease within two years, doctors said.
  • Pfizer said it plans to start selling Exubera by summer. The therapy is expected to cost between Dh440 and Dh550 a month.
  • Health analysts said the inhaler's annual sales worldwide could touch Dh7.35 billion by 2010.