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person testing blood sugar, taking pill; oral insulin future of diabetes treatment

Is Oral Insulin the Future of Diabetes Treatment?

A New York-based pharmaceutical company called Oramed Pharmaceuticals may have cracked the code and created the world’s first oral insulin medication. After Oramed met with the FDA in 2017, Phase 2 trials began for the drug at about three dozen test sites across the United States.

Benefits of oral insulin

The benefits of this breakthrough go beyond the obvious—making it easier for those averse to needle usage. Oral insulin also:

  • Improves medication compliance, meaning patients are more likely to take insulin as directed.
  • Encourages users to eat more regularly.
  • Allows patients to use less insulin.
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How oral insulin works

When insulin is injected, it must travel through the bloodstream before it ends up in the liver for processing. Some insulin gets lost along the way, causing patients to use more insulin to get the desired effect. This can put patients at risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and weight gain.

The challenge pharmaceutical companies have been facing for decades is that previous versions of oral insulin couldn’t stand up to stomach acid, which degraded the drug before it could be passed through the intestines for absorption. However, Oramed’s oral insulin is different. This pill comes with a protective pH-sensitive coating that protects the drug until it reaches the small intestine.

Important of insulin

When blood sugar is elevated for a long period of time (diabetes), it can damage tiny blood vessels throughout the body and cause irreversible harm to the heart, kidneys, and eyes. Keeping blood sugar levels within a normal range is a crucial part of diabetes management and can usually be attained through a healthy diet, regular exercise, and medication compliance.

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What comes next

Early trials for oral insulin tested the drug for 28 days, but new trails aim to measure the drug’s efficiency over 90 days. If Phase 2 trials are successful, final phase trials are expected to begin in 2019/20.