Inhaled insulin breathes new hopes into millions with diabetes


ST. LOUIS (KSDK) — November 14 is recognized as World Diabetes Day.

29 million people in the U.S. have diabetes. That's nearly 10 percent of the country.

For years, Diabetes patients have been poking themselves with needles, but there's a new treatment on the market that could change that with one deep breath at a time.

With one deep breath, 33-year-old Richard Valerius has taken his insulin. He carries it in a small case and has no shame taking his medicine in public.

Valerius said, "My inhalable sounds like an asthma inhaler and I can do it at a restaurant."

Valerius was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when he was just 8-years-old. It wasn't until 9 months ago that he even learned there was an alternative to the painful injections.

"There's a lot less guesswork involved and I really appreciate that. Especially when you're just trying to live a normal life on a daily basis," he explained.

Valerius says ditching the injections has been life changing and he says the inhaled insulin works much faster for him.

"A few minutes in it starts to do its magic and within an hour it’s run its course. So, if your blood sugar is high at that point you know you have to take more inhalable. But it won't trend downward at that point either. At least that’s been my experience with it," explained Valerius.

Endocrinologist Dr. Bharathi Raju believes this new product, called Afreza, will become the new treatment for Diabetes.

"This particular type of insulin reduces the number of low blood sugars they get. They don't feel this as a hindrance. Particularly it’s very popular among younger patients as they come to know the ease of it, will become much more popular," explained Dr. Raju.

As for the cost of Afrezza compared to other injections on the market, Dr. Raju said, “It’s compatible and right now about 70 to 80 percent of the insurances cover this."

Valerius said, "It’s a significantly better quality of life than continuous injections. So, I’m a pretty big fan."

Inhaled Insulin was approved by the FDA in 2014 and was made available in the United States a year later. However, it is still not approved for people younger than 18 years of age. Dr. Raju says the drug hasn't been studied in children yet.