Pfizer has announced that it has acquired the sanofi-aventis worldwide rights to Exubera (inhaled human insulin). Pfizer received approval last month to market Exubera in the United States and the European Union for the treatment of adults with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Exubera is the first inhalable form of insulin to be approved since the discovery of insulin in the 1920s, and represents a major advance in diabetes treatment.
Diabetes is a leading cause of death by disease worldwide and is currently at epidemic proportions. If blood sugar levels are not controlled, serious complications including heart disease, kidney failure, blindness and nerve damage will often develop. Approximately 194 million people worldwide have the disease.
Exubera is a rapid-acting, dry powder human insulin that is inhaled through the mouth into the lungs prior to eating, using a portable, handheld inhaler that when closed is about the size of an eyeglass case. Exubera is the result of one of the most rigorous and innovative diabetes development programs ever conducted.
In clinical trials, many patients using Exubera reported greater treatment satisfaction than patients taking insulin by injection. Even those patients who had used both Exubera and insulin injections or diabetes pills reported an overall preference for Exubera.
Pfizer and sanofi-aventis were previously in a worldwide alliance to co-develop, co-promote and co-manufacture Exubera. Pfizer has also acquired the sanofi-aventis rights to the Exubera insulin production facilities located in Frankfurt, Germany, which were previously jointly owned by Pfizer and sanofi-aventis. Exubera is currently a product of collaboration between Pfizer and Nektar Therapeutics.