A clinical trial found a nasal drug spray can provide an easier and better rescue treatment for diabetic patients suffering from very low blood sugar levels, especially unconscious patients. The nasal drug spray contains a fast blood sugar-increasing hormone called glucagon in powdered form.
Hypoglycemia is a low blood sugar condition. Its only treatment option requires mixing glucagon powder with water and injecting the drug directly into the muscle via a syringe. Clinical test results found the nasal drug spray is just as effective as the injectable option.
Wayne State University School of Medicine clinical professor Dr. George Grunberger commented that the nasal drug spray could become the go-to treatment for patients suffering from severe hypoglycemia, given its easy-to-use functionality. Grunberger is president of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.
"This is something which people have been crying for, for years. It was only a matter of time before something more practical came onto the market," added Grunberger, who was not involved in the clinical test.
The clinical test enrolled 75 type 1 diabetes patients who experienced hypoglycemia twice. They received glucagon once via injection and once via the nasal spray. Trial results showed the glucagon injection was 100 percent effective while nasal spray was 99 percent effective.
The injection took 13 minutes to increase blood sugar levels while the nasal spray took 16 minutes. Despite the time difference, the researchers stressed earlier findings that administering the nasal spray only takes 16 to 26 seconds. The other option takes 1.9 to 2.4 minutes and the speed highly depends on the caregiver's level of training.
Diabetes patients face health risks when they accidentally take too much insulin, as their blood sugar drops radically. Mild to moderate cases can be corrected by eating hard candy or drinking orange juice, but severe cases require drug administration.
While glucagon is currently sold in powder form, diabetics must have a vial handy and access to water and a syringe to administer the drug. Unfortunately, this approach is not only tedious but also precarious in an emergency situation for both patients and bystanders who do not have drug administration know-how.
The new nasal drug spray can be administered immediately by the patient or a bystander. Diabetes and endocrinology assistant professor Dr. Deena Adimoolam from the Icahn School of Medicine said shooting the drug straight up the patient's nose will allow glucagon to be absorbed by the nasal passages' mucous membranes. Adimoolam was not involved in the clinical trial.
The clinical test findings were published in the journal Diabetes Care on Dec. 17.