Small Canadian drug delivery firm Generex recently stole a march on the pharma giants by launching the world's first non-injectable insulin in Ecuador last December in the form of an oral insulin spray and the chewing gum is now being developed using similar technology.
The new collaboration will combine Generex's proprietary buccal drug delivery technologies with Fertin's chewing gum development and manufacturing expertise to create a chewing gum that will deliver metformin into the body via the buccal mucosa (the inner lining of the mouth) rather than in its current tablet form.
Metformin is used with or without insulin for the early treatment of Type 2 diabetes and is also used to prevent the development of diabetes in people at risk, such as those who are obsese, as well as treating polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (liver disease).
The companies hope that this new method of drug delivery may provide relief for the approximately 30 per cent of metformin users who develop significant adverse gastrointestinal effects from taking metformin tablets, including diarrhea and nausea/vomiting.
In addition, the developers believe that the metformin gum, which will soon start Phase II clinical trials, will avoid the bitter taste and large doses associated with the tablet form and improve the number of patients taking their medication, particularly younger patients.
Type 2 diabetes results when there is a reduced production of insulin or when there is state of resistance to its action and affects 140m people worldwide.
Metformin increases the sensitivity of liver, muscle, fat, and other tissues to the uptake and effects of insulin, and lowers blood glucose levels and the US market for all forms of metformin is worth $1.8bn (€1.4bn).