Afrezza, a new inhaled insulin product for diabetics developed by MannKind and marketed by Sanofi, launched earlier this year. While MannKind and Sanofi have worked to keep expectations for initial sales of their innovative route for insulin low, some analysts project that Afrezza could take over a substantial share of the insulin market by 2018.
More on Afrezza review in The Medical Letter
A review of Afrezza in the March 2nd edition of The Medical Letter outlines both the efficacy and safety data from the clinical trials and compares Afrezza to other rapid-acting mealtime insulins (all are injection therapies). The final conclusion on Afrezza is classic examples of damning with faint praise: “Afrezza, the only inhaled formulation of insulin currently available in the US, appears to be only modestly effective in reducing HBA1c. Cough is a common side effect and the long-term pulmonary safety of inhaling insulin is unknown.”
The review also provides a pricing chart that lists Afrezza as costing more competing injectable insulins sold by Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly.
Of note, doctors have written 290 prescriptions for Afrezza during the first month of availability, based on pharmacy data from Symphony Health.
Mannkind says Afrezza launch will take time
Sanofi commented at its recent earnings call that demand for Afrezza had been greater than expected. The French drugmaker even requested MannKind to increase the number of samples. Research firm Jefferies notes that MannKind’s Afrezza Patient Savings Card will ease the financial burden for many patients. Execs noted, however, that the Afrezza launch will take time, as medical professionals have to “change the way they use mealtime insulin to fully realize Afrezza’s potential.”
Inhaled insulin provides a convenient alternative to methods such as injections and pumps. Most analysts also expect MannKind’s 12U cartridge designed to deliver a larger single dose to be approved by the second quarter of 2015. The firm is also expected to increase manufacturing capacity to be able to ramp up to triple the current production.