New inhaled diabetic drug too costly for the NHS

The National Health Service in the UK seems to be staggering from one crisis to another and now another row has broken out over a new treatment for diabetes.

The new treatment Exubera, is a form of insulin which can be inhaled and it promises to transform the lives of diabetes sufferers, some of whom need to inject insulin up to five times a day.

The drug however costs as much as £500 a year or more per patient and it's use has been rejected by the Government’s drug watchdog the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) on the grounds that it is not cost effective.

It is estimated that as many as 800,000 people in Britain use insulin injections to control the symptoms of diabetes, a disease which can have very serious effects and a blow out is expected in those numbers as the population becomes fatter and takes less exercise.

Inhaled insulin has been heralded as the greatest potential advance in treatment for 80 years.

Diabetes UK has urged NICE to reconsider the guidance, which will now go through a consultation process before a final decision is made.

Drug manufacturer Pfizer says its trials show inhaled insulin to be as effective as injected insulin, and is a more acceptable option for many than injections.

Pfizer says the drug offers clinicians the opportunity to benefit patients by starting insulin much earlier, thereby cutting future costs of treating diabetes and its complications, such as heart disease, amputation, blindness and kidney failure.

The company says the decision by NICE is short sighted and perverse.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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