Diabetes, life-saving nasal spray becomes refundable in Italy: how Glucagon works

Diabetes, life-saving nasal spray becomes refundable in Italy: how Glucagon works
Diabetes, life-saving nasal spray becomes refundable in Italy: how Glucagon works

Insulin and glucagon are two hormones produced by the pancreas and whose main function is to regulate blood sugar. In people with diabetes type 1, especially of long duration, the risk of hypoglycemia affects everyone, and up to over 40% of patients are affected at least once a year. In addition, although less frequent, episodes of hypoglycemia are also possible in patients with type 2 diabetes. Effective and simple to use (simple puff in one nostril) glucagon, a life-saving drug in case of severe lowering of blood sugar (hypoglycemia ) caused by diabetes, from today it can be prescribed for free. Approved in mid-2020 by the Italian Medicines Agency (Aifa), the novelty now becomes a real opportunity for patients in all Regions, thanks to the reimbursement by the National Health Service, provided for by the decree just published in the Official Gazette.

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Diabetes, what is the life-saving spray

The life-saving spray, produced by Ely Lilly, has a foolproof use for anyone, especially in the case of children, and can always be kept at hand because it does not require special precautions in storage. “When a person with diabetes undergoes an episode of severe hypoglycemia, with loss of consciousness, there is no time to waste: not being able to give sugars by mouth, it is necessary for another person to intervene immediately with glucagon, ‘insulin antagonist hormone that stimulates the liver to release and produce glucose, quickly bringing blood sugar back to normal ”, explains Paolo Di Bartolo, president of the Italian Association of Diabetologists. Until last year, glucagon was only available for intramuscular injection and it was therefore necessary to have someone able to administer it; a year ago glucagon in nasal spray formulation arrived in our country, a powder that can also be used on unconscious patients.

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Allowing free access to this drug can be a lifeline. “The sudden drop in blood glucose below the value of 54 mg / ml is an unpredictable emergency that affects many patients every year, especially those on insulin therapy”, explains Emanuele Bosi, director of the Diabetology Center and professor of Internal Medicine of the Vita Salute University of the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan. For all these people, he adds, “hypoglycemia is a sword of Damocles: in the absence of help, one can face loss of consciousness and death”. Approved for use above 4 years of age, the Glucagon Spray is ready to use and only requires administration into one nostril, because the powder enters the circulation without needing to be aspirated and there are no dosage adjustments. to do. “Always having a life-saving and manageable drug with you is ” life insurance in the event of loss of consciousness – concludes Claudio Maffeis, president of the Italian Society of Endocrinology and Pediatric Diabetology (SIEDP) – because anyone can intervene and spray the drug spray into the patient’s nose. and therefore offer adequate and timely help ”.

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