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June 27, 2000

Insulin

Question from Northern Ireland:

Can you please explain why insulin is primarily administered as a subcutaneous injection?

Answer:

Insulin is a protein, made up of amino acids, and so will be broken down in the stomach if taken orally. The only effective way of taking it is by avoiding the gut, so injecting it is at present the simplest and effective way. There are trial underway of use of inhaled insulin, which may be available in the near future. However, it will not replace insulin injections yet.

JS