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May 31, 2003

Insulin

Question from the USA:

I know the reason insulin cannot be taken orally is because stomach acid will destroy it, but what if it was taken with strong proton pump inhibitors?

Answer:

Stomach acid is not the only problem. All the digestive enzymes of the upper intestine would also degrade the protein insulin as well. So far, nobody has come up with a reliable method of coating the insulin so that it gets past all these digestive “juices.” There are several research efforts in various parts of the world still working on the problem, though.

SB