Getting rid of the insulin injections and consuming an insulin tablet could be the future of diabetes treatment. Pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk plans on being one of the first companies to develop these tablets, and announced plans on Monday to invest up to $3.65 billion on their development.
The company, which is the world’s largest insulin producer, estimates that a global market for diabetes tablets could be worth as much as $18 billion by 2020, Reuters reported. It has committed to developing six diabetes tablets. Should they be successful, many diabetes patients would be able to get the necessary insulin into their bloodstream without the fear of injection. The company has a 500-employee team dedicated to making these tablets, as well as a GLP-1 agonist. The problem, however, is getting the insulin through stomach acid without breaking down.
An insulin tablet would help both patients who are scared of injections and those who have been injecting for a long time and have developed scarring at the injection site. When this happens, blood circulation is hindered, making it more difficult for insulin to be effective.
There are currently 25.8 million Americans living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, while another 79 million people have prediabetes, meaning that they’re at an elevated risk for developing diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.