The recent news about the invention of insulin pills for diabetics has come as a great relief for diabetes patients who have been pricking themselves with injections over the years. These insulin pills would help them make their lives way too painless when it comes to senses; however, a hike in insulin prices will definitely leave them financially in pain.
The latest insulin pill discovery was made by US researchers, who presented it on Aug. 24 at the 252nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).
"We have developed a new technology called a CholestosomeTM," said Mary McCourt, leader of the research team, as per the ACS press release.
So far, the most difficult challenge these researchers faced was that insulin being a kind of protein which can't bear strong acids present in the stomach if consumed orally. It then diffuses in the intestines instead of the blood vessels it was suppose to be in.
The researchers first tried packing the insulin with a polymer coating to protect the protein, but this idea didn't work out. Then Niagara University's McCourt, along with Lawrence Mielnicki and Jamie Catalano, came up with the plan to use patented CholestosomesTM, and their plan turned out to be a success.
"A CholestosomeTM is a neutral, lipid-based particle that is capable of doing some very interesting things," McCourt added.
Insulin has been a vital medicine, aiding the diabetics since 1921, when two Canadian scientists named Charles Best and Frederick Banting introduced it to the world. Back then, these two scientists sold the insulin patent to University of Toronto at $1 Canadian, so that this crucial diabetes drug would easily be available for the needy. However, times have changed now.
Various news reports state that prices of insulin have risen more than three times over the last 10 years. This has led several patients not being able to afford the medicine, which can be fatal and grave for their organs, leaving type-1 diabetics at even more risk. It is found that the US faced the maximum hike in insulin prices compared to other countries across the world, according to a CBS News report. There were approximately 420 million diabetics in the US in 2014, as per the WHO statistics.
Insulin is of crucial importance for those suffering from diabetes and a price rise of above 200 percent was observed between 2002-2013. The price changed from $231 to $736 per patient for yearly treatment, according to a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
"Insulin is a life-saving medication," said Dr. William Herman, co-author of the analysis and a professor of medicine and epidemiology at University of Michigan School of Public Health.
"There are people with type 1 diabetes who will die without insulin. And while there have been incremental benefits in insulin products, prices have been rising. So there are people who can't afford them. It's a real problem," he stated further.
This study also observed that there was depletion or minimal rise in the prices of the oral diabetes medicines unlike insulin.