AFREZZA® (insulin human) inhalation powder

AFREZZA® (insulin human) inhalation powder

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AFREZZA® (insulin human) inhalation powder

AFREZZA Cartridges

AFREZZA consists of single-use plastic cartridges filled with a white powder containing insulin (human), which is administered via oral inhalation using the AFREZZA Inhaler only.

AFREZZA cartridges contain human insulin produced by recombinant DNA technology utilizing a non-pathogenic laboratory strain of Escherichia coli (K12). Chemically, human insulin has the empirical formula C257H383N65O77S6 and a molecular weight of 5808.

Insulin is adsorbed onto carrier particles consisting of fumaryl diketopiperazine (FDKP) and polysorbate 80.

AFREZZA Inhalation Powder is a dry powder supplied as 4 unit, 8 unit or 12 unit cartridges. The 4 unit cartridge contains 0.35 mg of insulin. The 8 unit cartridge contains 0.7 mg of insulin. The 12 unit cartridge contains 1 mg of insulin.


The AFREZZA Inhaler is breath-powered by the patient. When the patient inhales through the device, the powder is aerosolized and delivered to the lung. The amount of AFREZZA delivered to the lung will depend on individual patient factors.

Indications and usage

AFREZZA® is a rapid acting inhaled insulin indicated to improve glycemic control in adult patients with diabetes mellitus.

Important limitations of use:

  • In patients with type 1 diabetes, must use with a long-acting insulin.
  • Not recommended for the treatment of diabetic ketoacidosis.
  • Not recommended in patients who smoke

Mechanism of Action

Insulin lowers blood glucose levels by stimulating peripheral glucose uptake by skeletal muscle and fat, and by inhibiting hepatic glucose production. Insulin inhibits lipolysis in adipocytes, inhibits proteolysis, and enhances protein synthesis.


Absorption: The time to maximum serum insulin concentration ranges from 10-20 minutes after oral inhalation of 4 to 48 units of AFREZZA. Serum insulin concentrations declined to baseline by approximately 60 to 240 minutes for these dose levels.

Disposition: Systemic insulin disposition (apparent terminal half-life) following oral inhalation of 4 to 48 units of AFREZZA was 120-206 minutes.

Dose Proportionality: Insulin exposure (AUC) has been demonstrated to be dose-proportional when using AFREZZA doses up to 48 units.

Variability: Intrapatient variability in insulin exposure measured by AUC and Cmax is approximately 16% (95% CI 12-23%) and 21% (95% CI 16-30%), respectively.

Metabolism and Elimination: The metabolism and elimination of AFREZZA are comparable to regular human insulin

Carrier Particles: Clinical pharmacology studies showed that carrier particles are not metabolized and are eliminated unchanged in the urine following the lung absorption. Following oral inhalation of AFREZZA, a mean of 39% of the inhaled dose of carrier particles was distributed to the lungs and a mean of 7% of the dose was swallowed. The swallowed fraction was not absorbed from the GI tract and was eliminated unchanged in the feces.


  • During episodes of hypoglycemia
  • Chronic lung disease, such as asthma, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Hypersensitivity to regular human insulin or any of the AFREZZA excipients

Dosage and administration

  • AFREZZA should only be administered via oral inhalation using the AFREZZA Inhaler. AFREZZA is administered using a single inhalation per cartridge.
  • Administer AFREZZA at the beginning of the meal.

Step 1: Starting Mealtime Dose

  • Insulin Naïve Individuals: Start on 4 units of AFREZZA at each meal.
  • Individuals Using Subcutaneous Mealtime (Prandial) Insulin: Determine the appropriate AFREZZA dose for each meal by converting from the injected dose using Figure 1.
  • Individuals Using Subcutaneous Pre-mixed Insulin: Estimate the mealtime injected dose by dividing half of the total daily injected pre-mixed insulin dose equally among the three meals of the day. Convert each estimated injected mealtime dose to an appropriate AFREZZA dose using Figure 1. Administer half of the total daily injected pre-mixed dose as an injected basal insulin dose.

Step 2: Mealtime Dose Adjustment

Adjust the dosage of AFREZZA based on the individual’s metabolic needs, glucose monitoring results and glycemic control goal.

Dosage adjustments may be needed with changes in physical activity, changes in meal patterns (i.e., macronutrient content or timing of food intake), changes in renal or hepatic function or during acute illness

Carefully monitor blood glucose control in patients requiring high doses of AFREZZA. If, in these patients, blood glucose control is not achieved with increased AFREZZA doses, consider use of subcutaneous mealtime insulin.

AFREZZA Administration for Doses Exceeding 12 units

For AFREZZA doses exceeding 12 units, inhalations from multiple cartridges are necessary. To achieve the required total mealtime dose, patients should use a combination of 4 unit, 8 unit and 12 unit cartridges. Examples of cartridge combinations for doses of up to 24 units are shown in Figure 1. For doses above 24 units, combinations of different multiple cartridges can be used.

Dosage Adjustment due to Drug Interactions: Dosage adjustment may be needed when AFREZZA is coadministered with certain drugs

Lung Function Assessment Prior to Administration: AFREZZA is contraindicated in patients with chronic lung disease because of the risk of acute bronchospasm in these patients. Before initiating AFREZZA, perform a medical history, physical examination and spirometry (FEV1) in all patients to identify potential lung disease

Warnings and precautions

Acute Bronchospasm in Patients with Chronic Lung Disease: Because of the risk of acute bronchospasm, AFREZZA is contraindicated in patients with chronic lung disease such as asthma or COPD.

Changes in Insulin Regimen: Glucose monitoring is essential for patients receiving insulin therapy. Changes in insulin strength, manufacturer, type, or method of administration may affect glycemic control and predispose to hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia. These changes should be made under close medical supervision and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring should be increased. Concomitant oral antidiabetic treatment may need to be adjusted.

Hypoglycemia: Hypoglycemia is the most common adverse reaction associated with insulins, including AFREZZA. Severe hypoglycemia can cause seizures, may be life-threatening, or cause death. Hypoglycemia can impair concentration ability and reaction time; this may place an individual and others at risk in situations where these abilities are important (e.g., driving or operating other machinery).

Decline in Pulmonary Function: AFREZZA causes a decline in lung function over time as measured by FEV1. In clinical trials excluding patients with chronic lung disease and lasting up to 2 years, AFREZZA-treated patients experienced a small [40 mL (95% CI: -80, -1)] but greater FEV1 decline than comparator-treated patients. The FEV1 decline was noted within the first 3 months, and persisted for the entire duration of therapy (up to 2 years of observation). In this population, the annual rate of FEV1 decline did not appear to worsen with increased duration of use. The effects of AFREZZA on pulmonary function for treatment duration longer than 2 years has not been established. There are insufficient data in long term studies to draw conclusions regarding reversal of the effect on FEV1 after discontinuation of AFREZZA. The observed changes in FEV1 were similar in patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Lung Cancer: In clinical trials, two cases of lung cancer, one in controlled trials and one in uncontrolled trials (2 cases in 2,750 patient-years of exposure), were observed in participants exposed to AFREZZA while no cases of lung cancer were observed in comparators (0 cases in 2,169 patient-years of exposure). In both cases, a prior history of heavy tobacco use was identified as a risk factor for lung cancer. Two additional cases of lung cancer (squamous cell) occurred in non-smokers exposed to AFREZZA and were reported by investigators after clinical trial completion. These data are insufficient to determine whether AFREZZA has an effect on lung or respiratory tract tumors. In patients with active lung cancer, a prior history of lung cancer, or in patients at risk for lung cancer, consider whether the benefits of AFREZZA use outweigh this potential risk.


Diabetic Ketoacidosis: In clinical trials enrolling subjects with type 1 diabetes, diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) was more common in subjects receiving AFREZZA (0.43%; n=13) than in subjects receiving comparators (0.14%; n=3). In patients at risk for DKA, such as those with an acute illness or infection, increase the frequency of glucose monitoring and consider delivery of insulin using an alternate route of administration if indicated

Hypersensitivity Reactions: Severe, life-threatening, generalized allergy, including anaphylaxis, can occur with insulin products, including AFREZZA. If hypersensitivity reactions occur, discontinue AFREZZA, treat per standard of care and monitor until symptoms and signs resolve. AFREZZA is contraindicated in patients who have had hypersensitivity reactions to AFREZZA or any of its excipients

Hypokalemia: All insulin products, including AFREZZA, cause a shift in potassium from the extracellular to intracellular space, possibly leading to hypokalemia. Untreated hypokalemia may cause respiratory paralysis, ventricular arrhythmia, and death. Monitor potassium levels in patients at risk for hypokalemia (e.g., patients using potassium-lowering medications, patients taking medications sensitive to serum potassium concentrations and patients receiving intravenously administered insulin).

Fluid Retention and Heart Failure with Concomitant Use of PPAR-gamma Agonists: Thiazolidinediones (TZDs), which are peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)-gamma agonists, can cause dose-related fluid retention, particularly when used in combination with insulin. Fluid retention may lead to or exacerbate heart failure. Patients treated with insulin, including AFREZZA, and a PPAR-gamma agonist should be observed for signs and symptoms of heart failure. If heart failure develops, it should be managed according to current standards of care, and discontinuation or dose reduction of the PPAR-gamma agonist must be considered.

Adverse reactions

The most common adverse reactions associated with AFREZZA (2% or greater incidence) are hypoglycemia, cough, and throat pain or irritation.

Drug interactions

Drugs That May Increase the Risk of Hypoglycemia: The risk of hypoglycemia associated with AFREZZA use may be increased with antidiabetic agents, ACE inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blocking agents, disopyramide, fibrates, fluoxetine, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, pentoxifylline, pramlintide, propoxyphene, salicylates, somatostatin analogs (e.g., octreotide), and sulfonamide antibiotics. Dose adjustment and increased frequency of glucose monitoring may be required when AFREZZA is co-administered with these drugs.

Drugs That May Decrease the Blood Glucose Lowering Effect of AFREZZA: The glucose lowering effect of AFREZZA may be decreased when co-administered with atypical antipsychotics (e.g., olanzapine and clozapine), corticosteroids, danazol, diuretics, estrogens, glucagon, isoniazid, niacin, oral contraceptives, phenothiazines, progestogens (e.g., in oral contraceptives), protease inhibitors, somatropin, sympathomimetic agents (e.g., albuterol, epinephrine, terbutaline) and thyroid hormones. Dose adjustment and increased frequency of glucose monitoring may be required when AFREZZA is co-administered with these drugs.

Drugs That May Increase or Decrease the Blood Glucose Lowering Effect of AFREZZA: The glucose lowering effect of AFREZZA may be increased or decreased when co-administered with alcohol, beta-blockers, clonidine, and lithium salts. Pentamidine may cause hypoglycemia, which may sometimes be followed by hyperglycemia. Dose adjustment and increased frequency of glucose monitoring may be required when AFREZZA is co-administered with these drugs.

Drugs That May Affect Hypoglycemia Signs and Symptoms: The signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia may be blunted when beta-blockers, clonidine, guanethidine, and reserpine are co-administered with AFREZZA.

Use in specific populations

Pregnancy: Limited available data with AFREZZA use in pregnant women are insufficient to determine drug-associated risks for adverse developmental outcomes. Available information from published studies with human insulin use during pregnancy has not reported a clear association with human insulin and adverse developmental outcomes. There are risks to the mother and fetus associated with poorly controlled diabetes in pregnancy

Poorly controlled diabetes in pregnancy increases the maternal risk for diabetic ketoacidosis, pre-eclampsia, spontaneous abortions, preterm delivery, stillbirth, and delivery complications. Poorly controlled diabetes increases the fetal risk for major birth defects, still birth, and macrosomia- related morbidity.

Lactation: There are no data on the presence of AFREZZA in human milk, the effects on the breastfed infant, or the effects on milk production. One small published study reported that exogenous insulin was present in human milk. No adverse effects in infants were noted. The carrier particles are present in rat milk. Potential adverse effects that are related to inhalational administration of AFREZZA are unlikely to be associated with potential exposure of AFREZZA through breast milk. The developmental and health benefits of breastfeeding should be considered along with the mother’s clinical need for AFREZZA and any potential adverse effects on the breastfed infant from AFREZZA or from the underlying maternal condition.

Pediatric Use: AFREZZA has not been studied in patients younger than 18 years of age.

Geriatric Use: In the AFREZZA clinical studies, 381 patients were 65 years of age or older, of which 20 were 75 years of age or older. No overall differences in safety or effectiveness were observed between patients over 65 and younger patients

Hepatic Impairment: The effect of hepatic impairment on the pharmacokinetics of AFREZZA has not been studied. Frequent glucose monitoring and dose adjustment may be necessary for AFREZZA in patients with hepatic impairment.

Renal Impairment: The effect of renal impairment on the pharmacokinetics of AFREZZA has not been studied. Some studies with human insulin have shown increased circulating levels of insulin in patients with renal failure. Frequent glucose monitoring and dose adjustment may be necessary for AFREZZA in patients with renal impairment.


Excess insulin administration may cause hypoglycemia and hypokalemia.

Mild episodes of hypoglycemia can usually be treated with oral glucose. Adjustments in drug dosage, meal patterns, or exercise, may be needed. Severe episodes of hypoglycemia with coma, seizure, or neurologic impairment may be treated with intramuscular / subcutaneous glucagon or concentrated intravenous glucose. After apparent clinical recovery from hypoglycemia, continued observation and additional carbohydrate intake may be necessary to avoid recurrence of hypoglycemia.

Hypokalemia must be corrected appropriately.

Storage and handling

Before use, cartridges should be at room temperature for 10 minutes

Not in Use: Refrigerated Storage 2-8ºC (36-46ºF)

Inhaler Storage: Store at 2-25ºC (36-77ºF); excursions permitted. Inhaler may be stored refrigerated, but should be at room temperature before use.

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