A treatment including inhaled insulin (Exubera) improves blood sugar levels better than treatment consisting of diabetes pills alone. Researchers conducted an open-label, 12-week, multicenter, randomized study of 309 patients with type 2 diabetes, aged 35 to 80, who were taking 2 diabetes pills. The patients were randomly switched to inhaled insulin alone, asked to add inhaled insulin to their regimen of 2 pills, or remained on their regimen of 2 diabetes pills alone. With the recommended treatment blood sugar goal at 7, these patients entered the study with blood sugar levels of 9.5 to 9.6. Patients taking just the inhaled insulin improved their blood sugar levels by 1.4; patients taking just the 2 diabetes pills improved their blood sugar levels by 0.2; and patients taking the diabetes pills plus the inhaled insulin improved their blood sugar levels by 1.9. There were no incidences of treatment-related discontinuations by any of the study's participants. The most common side effects with inhaled insulin were hypoglycemia and mild cough. According to lead investigator Julio Rosenstock, MD, of the Dallas Diabetes and Endocrine Center, "Exubera resulted in significant improvements in blood sugar control, with marked reductions in blood sugar levels, which is the ultimate objective for any patient with diabetes."
Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.