The future may be needle-free for diabetics, reported researchers at the meeting of the American Diabetes Association (June 5, 2004). Innovations include no-needle testing and no-stick insulin. For example, developers at Abbott Diabetes Care believe that their new glucose monitor could be the first to replace the finger-stick method. The device, the FreeStyle Navigator, uses a 3-day patch worn on the stomach or upper arm that transmits data wirelessly to a pager-like receiver that can be kept in a pocket or purse. Abbott is awaiting approval from the FDA for use of the device by both children and adults.
Patients who dislike injections or oral medications to treat their diabetes may prefer a fast-acting inhaled insulin that controls blood sugar without harming the lungs. A 4-year study of inhaled insulin found that lung function and control of blood sugars were maintained. Pfizer and Aventis have developed Exubera for patients with both major forms of diabetes. Exubera uses a special inhaler and powdered form of insulin developed by Nektar Therapeutics. The product has been submitted for licensing in Europe but not yet in the United States.