Inhalable insulin achieves breakthrough

Inhalable insulin soon may be a reality. Research ers announced at a meeting of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, held in mid-November in New Orleans, that they had developed a stable, pressurized Metered-Dose Applicator formulation for insulin that can be delivered by a tasteless spray that disperses insulin into the bloodstream through tissues in the mouth.1 The formulation doesn’t need refrigeration like conventional insulin.

The device for buccal delivery of insulin, called pMDA, and the buccal insulin, pMDI, have been tested on rats and administered to three healthy human volunteers so far. Baseline blood glucose levels were established for each volunteer. After the volunteers fasted overnight, each volunteer received one puff of the pMDI into the buccal cavity. Blood glucose levels were monitored during the next five hours to demonstrate the hypoglycemic effect. The investigators report that significant hypoglycemic effects were observed in the human study. The subjects’ blood glucose levels decreased sharply in the first 20 minutes after dosing, and the maximum hypoglycemic effect was observed between 100 and 150 minutes post-dosing.


1. Liu J, Libbey MA, McCoy RE, et al. Feasibility study of buccal delivery of insulin using propellant-driven metered-dose applicators (abstract No. 2200). Presentation delivered at the meeting of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists. New Orleans; Nov. 14-18, 1999.