Latebreakers: No real surprise to Exubera discontinuation, R.Ph.s say

November 5, 2007

Exubera (inhaled insulin) discontinued

Pharmacists were not too surprised this month when Pfizer announced it was discontinuing sales of Exubera, the company's inhaled insulin, given the problems the product had from the beginning and the lack of acceptance among physicians and patients alike. Patients may have been expecting a device the size of an asthma inhaler, but instead they got something resembling a large flashlight that was difficult to hide even in a purse, one pharmacist said. Other complaints from patients included difficulty in dosing, with a 1-mg dose equivalent to three units of regular insulin, but 3 mg corresponding to eight units. It made calculating an appropriate dose difficult for patients, according to some pharmacists who dispensed Exubera. Sales were also thought to be low due to the high cost and poor reimbursement.