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Inhaled Insulin, getting closer to EU

Pfizer Inc. and Sanofi-Aventis SA's inhaled diabetes treatment Exubera took a major step towards European approval on Thursday when a panel of experts recommended its use.

The London-based European Medicines Evaluation Agency said the committee had backed Exubera's use for the treatment of type 1 and type 2 diabetes in adults, although not all patients will be able to give up injections altogether.

Exubera could revolutionize treatment for diabetics who currently need multiple injections, but its path to market has been delayed for years by concerns about possible adverse effects on lung function.

Pfizer and Sanofi are developing Exubera with Nektar Therapeutics (up $0.69 to $15.69, Research), a small U.S. company which invented the insulin formulation and the inhaler for delivering it to the lungs.

Recommendations for marketing approval by the agency's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use are normally endorsed by the European Commission within 90 days.

An estimated 180 million people around the world suffer from diabetes and experts believe the number could reach 300 million within 20 years, as an obesity epidemic triggers more cases of type 2, or adult-onset, disease.
LONDON (Reuters)
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