What is Afrezza? In short, it is an inhaled insulin created by MannKind Corporation, based on Technosphere technology, and until recently, marketed and distributed by Sanofi. If you want the short story and some rumors surrounding the breakup of Sanofi and MannKind, The Motley Fool has some tidbits you can read.
What I will say about Afrezza, is it has greatly improved my health. But first, some background:
I am a Type I diabetic, diagnosed over 50 years ago. I started with the days when insulin was made out of cow and pig “parts” and injections were from glass syringes that you had to boil to sterilize. The 1980’s brought “Human” insulin.”
In the 1990’s, I switched to a Disetronic insulin pump, and then moved to a Medtronic pump, and eventually the Medtronic pump/CGM combos. Insulin pumps use fast acting synthetic insulin. Life was grand.
Insulin pumps provided me with tighter blood glucose control, but I have always been considered a “brittle diabetic” (a diabetic with “variability” of blood glucose levels), partly due to gastroparesis and mainly due to absorption issues in different insulin injection or infusion sites. On the insulin pumps, my A1C’s typically ranged in the upper 7’s to low 8’s, and after adding the CGM, it dropped to the high 6’s to the mid to upper 7’s.
After 20+ years of wearing an insulin pump, the absorption issue has become quite problematic for me. My A1C over the past 2 years has gone up from 6.8 two years ago to 8.2+ over the past year. Moving the infusion site would sometimes get me perfect blood glucose levels, and sometimes they varied so much I could hardly function. This is largely due to scar tissue buildup (and maybe insulin lipohypertrophy) from so many years of using the infusion sites so long and regularly. Do not get me wrong – I liked my pump, and still cannot live without the CGM, even on Afrezza.
Into the picture comes Afrezza. It is an inhaled powder insulin, and it takes effect almost immediately (12-15 minutes) after inhaling. You take it when you eat, and not 30 minutes +/- before your meal. It is much more flexible, and has quick absorption though the lungs. Great technology, and in a few weeks my A1C is down in the low to mid 6’s, which is near normal for a non-diabetic (not quite, but getting there).
A note: Hemoglobin A1C tests are usually done every 3 months, as they are a measure of the glycated hemoglobin (A1C) in the system over the past 3 months. However, since I have no-cost A1C tests available at my clinic, my Nurse Practitioner and I are doing tests every 2 weeks to trace the results of using Afrezza in my treatment.
My next story will be on my long trip through doctor and insurance land, and how I finally got to the point of actually using Afrezza.