Exubera inhaled insulin -- is this the future of diabetes control?
This Washington Post column about a new inhalable version of insulin for diabetics is no reason for diabetics to celebrate.
The traditional way to administer insulin into the body for people with diabetes has been with a needle injection of the substance that will help them control their blood sugar levels. However, phamaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. has developed and the Food and Drug Adminstration has approved the sale of the inhaled insulin product known as the name brand Exubera, which will be available for consumers to purchase beginning in the summer.
But what are we doing to diabetics by offering them this less-invasive way to administer insulin into their bodies? Are we REALLY helping them achieve a permanent way to control their diabetes or are we simply making it easier for them to rely on a drug for the cure?
One of the people I was privileged to meet at the Nutritional & Metabolic Aspects of Carbohydrate Restriction conference last week was Dr. Mary Vernon, a diabetes and obesity expert from the University of Kansas-Lawrence.
Mary Vernon's infectious enthusiasm is evident when she speaks
She co-authored the groundbreaking book Atkins Diabetes Revolution and shared very openly during last week's conference about how a carbohydrate-restricted diet can help alleviate and sometimes eliminate the need for insulin in her patients with diabetes.
I really liked the following self-test Vernon recommends for people to do who are worried about becoming diabetic.
"For men, can you see your toes when you look down? For women, is your waist size larger than your bra size? If yes, then you are at risk for diabetes and other weight-related health concerns."
She's a very funny, but insightful lady who brings an intense passion for people who are battling diabetes and combines it with her genuine desire to see their lives improve. She has invested her life into finding ways to help diabetics turn the tide against this awful disease forever.
Recommending her patients go on a carbohydrate restriction diet as prescribed by the late Dr. Robert C. Atkins, Vernon has seen her patients with metabolic syndrome, Type II diabetes, and diabetes precursor states improve their glucose control and their cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
In one such clinical study revealed at the conference, Vernon conducted a three-month observation study of 122 patients who were placed in one of two groups: carbohydrate restriction and low-fat diet. At the conclusion of the study, the low-fat dieters had lost more weight, but the blood lipid changes were much more improved in the carb-stricted group.
Overall, the 66 carb-restricted study participants averaged 9.5 kg, or .63 kg/week for 15 weeks, while the 56 low-fat diet study participants lost an average of 14.1 kg, or .70 kg/week over 20.2 weeks.
But the carb-restricted group saw a greater reduction in their triglycerides and triglyceride/HDL ratio while simultaneously seeing a noticable rise in their HDL.
As if that study wasn't compelling enough, Vernon conducted another clinical study featuring 14 diabetics who were placed on a carbohydrate-restricted diet for two months. The average age was 49, all of them were Caucasian, and all but one of them had Type II diabetes. Follow-up was conducted after eight months to see how they were doing.
Seven of the 14 study participants had normalized their hemoglobin levels to non-diabetic levels despite the fact that many of them did not see a significant weight loss effect. Among the Type II diabetics in the study, total cholesterol dropped by an average of 14.3% while triglycerides took a nosedive down 50.3% on average. WOWsers! Additionally, the triglyceride/HDL ratio fell by 55.0% and the total cholesterol/HDL ratio dropped by 21.2%.
The best news of all from this clinical study: 13 of the 14 patients were able to completely ELIMINATE glucose control medications (insulin) from their diabetes treatment -- GONE FOREVER!
Vernon concluded in her studies that a carbohydrate-restricted diet had a favorable effect on weight, triglycerides, HDL, and most importantly diabetes control.
"If metabolic syndrome, Type II diabetes, and diabetes precursor states are expressions of hyperinsulinemia, then a carbohydrate-restricted diet may be the treatment of choice because of its insulin-lowering effects," Vernon explained.
So what about this new inhaled insulin from Pfizer? With the preponderance of evidence pointing to more natural ways of effectively treating diabetes, why should diabetics be looking to yet another fancy schmancy drug as the solution to their problem?
While many diabetics haven't been taking their insulin because of the pain involved with injecting themselves with needles, aren't we making it easier for diabetics to ignore natural treatments such as carbohydrate restriction to deal with their disease? To me, this is NOT a solution for diabetics and, in my opinion, will only prevent more people from adequately treating their diabetes in the best possible manner.
While Pfizer and the medical community will slobber all over themselves about this new drug as a novel concept in diabetic treatment, all it is going to do is line the pockets of yet another drug company to the tune of at least $1 billion annually. No wonder these companies are so eager to push their drugs on an unsuspecting public. It's big-time money and they want you to take if for the rest of your life rather than treating your diseases the natural way.
One daily supply of the dry powder inhaled insulin product Exubera is expected to cost about $4-5 compared with the $1-1.50 price of traditional insulin injections.
A staggering 21 million Americans have diabetes with 5 million of them requiring insulin medication each day. While inhaled insulin should certainly take away the excuses about using insulin, we need to get the word out just as clearly to diabetics that there are ways to treat diabetes without fattening the wallets of the pharmaceutical companies in the process.
Additionally, there are some very real questions about the long-term effects of Exubera on the lungs which Pfizer promises to look into. Don't hold your breath on that one, especially if this thing becomes the big-time moneymaker they expect it to be. They are encouraging people who take this drug to have their lungs checked every six months by their doctor, though. Gee, that's comforting.
If you have diabetes and want a way to get it under control WITHOUT the use of insulin, inhaled or otherwise, then you might want to check out Mary Vernon's Atkins Diabetes Revolution. It is chock full of excellent information to help you make the right decisions about treating your diabetes the right way.
This is something that was near and dear to the heart of Dr. Atkins and is now the heartfelt concern of his widow, Mrs. Veronica Atkins.
While the Atkins diet may be foolishly laughed at and ridiculed by the media and so-called health "experts" today as an unhealthy way of living, don't be surprised to see that mindset turn completely around in the coming years as these same "experts" realize just how right Dr. Atkins was. I can't wait for THAT day to come! It's coming...SOON!