Breakthrough powdered insulin inhaler offers diabetes patients alternative to injections

Device used to inhal​e drug just before mealtime

HOUSTON – Sam Finta has always been fit and considered himself healthy. Everything changed with a diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes in 1999.

"It's a lifelong disease and you have to manage it several hours a day," Finta said.

But that all changed when he became part of a clinical trial for a powdered form of insulin called Afrezza.

Rather than pumps and injections, the drug comes in a little whistle-like device that is inhaled just before mealtime.

"It's a major breakthrough as far as I'm concerned because it's a very innovative drug," Dr. Eric Weinstein said.

As a podiatrist, Weinstein deals with one of the main complications of diabetes: neuropathy, or nerve damage that leads to foot ulcers that won't heal.

He said Afrezza could be a game changer for people with both Type 1 and 2 diabetes.

"Not only is it the convenience factor but it's also quick acting so it's in and out of your system very fast," Weinstein said.

That means patients can avoid the problematic blood-sugar highs and lows that come with typical treatment.

"Until Afrezza I didn't realize how sick I've been because I've normalized my blood sugar," Finta said. "Before, dealing with highs and lows and as a diabetic I get used to it."

Finta is planning a charity walk to raise awareness.

"I always thought that I was going to be the youngest person to die in my family, but now I have the hope of living a full healthy life," Finta said.

Because it's an inhaled powder it cannot be used by people with long-term, chronic lung disease.