OraMed Pharmaceuticals and Its Oral Insulin Pill

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For the needle-weary diabetes patient, a daily insulin pill would be a welcome relief. Unfortunately, oral insulin pills face two major obstacles on their path to the market: size and degradation. Insulin is a protein, so it gets digested by stomach acids before it can hit the bloodstream. The market potential is huge, but science hasn’t caught up until recently.

Oramed Pharmaceuticals of Jerusalem is developing a product that could potentially revolutionize the way diabetes is treated. The company’s flagship product is an oral insulin pill for diabetes patients. The drug consists of a softgel capsule with an enteric coating to protect the insulin from degradation. After the capsule passes through the stomach, the coating dissolves and a carrier transports the insulin to the liver. Oramed’s insulin pill performed well in a 2008 safety and efficacy study of patients with Type 2 diabetes. The product is currently in Phase IIb clinical trials.

Oramed is also developing a GLP-1 analog called ORMD 0901. The drug simulates a gastrointestinal hormone that promotes insulin secretion and slows the absorption of food into the bloodstream. Oramed plans to start human clinical trials of ORMD 0901 later this year.

Related video: Nadav Kidron, President and CEO of Oramed Pharmaceuticals, talks to LifeTech Capital’s William Dawson at the 2010 OneMedForum.

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