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Home Industry News Pfizer returns license for inhaled insulin drug

Pfizer returns license for inhaled insulin drug

15th January 2008

Pharmaceutical company Pfizer has returned a worldwide licence for the inhaled insulin drug Exubera following lower than expected demand for the treatment.

The manufacturer of Exubera has now decided to stop making the drug and patients will no longer be able to use it to control their blood sugar levels.

Pfizer has returned its licence to produce and sell Exubera to the original owner, biotech company Nektar Therapeutics, and those relying on the drug for treatment are now facing potential health problems unless another manufacturer is found. A transition programme is being established by Pfizer to help patients adapt to the withdrawal of the drug.

Created predominantly for those diabetes sufferers with a phobia of needles or those experiencing problems with injection sites, Exubera has not witnessed the levels of demand predicted by the manufacturer.

An estimated 600 patients in the UK are currently using Exubera and diabetes experts have warned that some people could suffer health or psychological difficulties if it is removed from the market, with risks including blindness, kidney disease and amputation.

Pfizer purchased its stake in Exubera in 2005 from Sanofi-Aventis and agreed a deal with Nektar that gave it around 90 per cent of sales of the drug. Exubera hit the market during summer 2006, but the drug suffered problems because it was complicated to prescribe and bulky for patients to carry around.

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