Hope For MannKind Corporation’s Afrezza

MannKind’s future hangs on whether it can make its first drug a success. Analysts have gone back and forth on whether Afrezza will catch on, and now one investor points out that one rapidly growing set of patients may greatly benefit from the inhaled insulin.

MannKind addresses the senior market

In a post on Seeking Alpha, Robert Sacher offered up some statistics on senior citizens with diabetes. He states that more than 25% of seniors are diabetic and that it’s extremely difficult to start seniors on injectable insulin. Currently the debate on Afrezza is whether or not the desire to stop injecting insulin is enough to convince patients to switch.

Further, insurance companies are apt to be resistant to the drug because it requires lung function testing because it is inhaled. But MannKind just may find the senior population to be a very willing party to helping Afrezza succeed.

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The trouble with seniors and insulin

Nearly 12 million Americans over the age of 65 are diabetic, and studies indicate that many just aren’t willing or able to inject themselves with insulin. In fact, a minority are even willing to try to control their blood sugar problems.

Studies show that seniors over the age of 80 are twice as likely to end up in the emergency room suffering from hypoglycemia compared to younger diabetics. Seniors are also 500% more likely to be hospitalized for it than are younger diabetics.

How MannKind can rescue senior diabetics

This is where Afrezza comes in, however. Sacher suggests that MannKind’s inhaled insulin makes more sense for the senior population because they don’t have to attempt to measure out the right amount of insulin. Also they don’t have to try to find an appropriate place to inject themselves, which can be difficult because so many seniors are so frail.

Another issue for much of the elderly population is trembling hands, which again makes it difficult for someone trying to inject themselves.  Also many get confused when trying to administer their insulin, whether it’s measuring out the wrong amount or injecting the wrong kind of insulin, which is a frequent cause of an ER trip for senior diabetics. Further, diabetics must count carbohydrates, which many seniors are unwilling or have difficulties doing, but Afrezza does not require the diabetic to do this.

The author suggests that prescribing Afrezza for seniors makes sense because it solves all the common problems seniors have with taking insulin. The result should, theoretically, be fewer trips to the ER. Further, he strongly suggests to MannKind’s marketing partner, Sanofi, that the senior population be strongly targeted in the upcoming marketing campaign.

Thus far, adoption of Afrezza has been slow, but several analysts remain convinced that in the long run, MannKind’s inhaled insulin will be a success.

As of this writing, shares of MannKind were down 1.7% at $4.62 per share.