FAQ: Asthma Medications

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Oct 31, 2000, 5:48:02 PM10/31/00
Archive-name: medicine/asthma/medications
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 17 Sep 2000
Orginal-author: Patricia Wrean <>
Version: 5.2 FAQ: Asthma Medications

This FAQ attempts to list the most commonly prescribed medications for the
prevention and treatment of asthma, both in the U.S. and overseas. It was
compiled by Patricia Wrean <> and is currently maintained
by Marie Goldenberg <>.

The following information came from three sources: most of the
drugs available in the U.S. are listed in the 1994 Physicians'
Desk Reference (full citation at end of post); many of the drugs
available in Canada are listed in the 1995 Compendium of
Pharmaceuticals and Specialities (full citation at end of post);
the remainder of the information, including those medications
available overseas, came from the many helpful contributors listed
at the end of the post. If you do not wish your name to be
included in the contributors list, please state that explicitly when
contributing. Also, if I have left anyone's name out, please let
me know so that I may include it.

** Although the maintainer and contributors do their best to keep
this FAQ updated, it is by no means an authoritative work.
Asthma is a serious illness requiring supervision by a
physician. Please do not attempt to change your medication
regime without consulting your doctor.

Corrections, additions, and comments are requested; please include
the name of the country in which the medication is available, as
it isn't always obvious from the user-id. If the drug is available
as an inhaler, please specify it as a MDI or one of the other types
mentioned in the glossary, or add a description of the inhaler if
it is not present already.

Abbreviations are explained in the glossary at the end of the table.
If the medication is followed by a country name in brackets, then
to the best of my knowledge it is only available in that country,
and not in the U.S.

I have only covered inhaled steroids, and not those taken orally,
at the present time. If the drug is available in a nasal form for
allergies, I've included it for completeness. For information
about allergy medications, please see the Allergy Medications FAQ,
which is posted monthly to the newsgroups,, and

+ = added since last version
& = updated/corrected since last version


Type of drug
Chemical name Brand name Comments
---------------------- ---------- --------


cromolyn sodium Intal available as MDI,
(sodium cromoglycate neb soln (US,
is WHO recommended elsewhere), capsules
name generally in for Spinhaler
use outside the (Can, NL, UK),
U.S.) Syncroner (Can, UK)
Lomudal capsules for
Spinhaler (NL)
Nasalcrom nasal spray (now OTC in US)
Novo-Cromolyn neb soln (Can)
Rynacrom nasal spray, cartridges
for nasal insufflator

ketotifen fumarate Zaditen tablets, syrup (Can)

sodium cromoglycate -- see cromolyn sodium


nedocromil Tilade MDI (US, elsewhere),
synchroner (UK)
neb soln (US,
upcoming in 1998)
sodium Tilade Mint MDI (UK)

steroidal (inhaled)

beclomethasone Aerobec autohaler (UK)
dipropionate Beclovent MDI (US, elsewhere),
Rotacaps for
Rotahaler (Can)
Beclodisk diskhaler (Can)
Becloforte MDI (Can, Sw, UK),
diskhaler (UK),
integra (UK),
5 times larger dose
than Beclovent
Becodisk diskhaler (UK)
Becotide MDI, Rotacaps for
Rotahaler (UK)
Beconase nasal MDI
Beconase AQ nasal spray
Respocort MDI, autohaler (NZ)
Vanceril MDI
Vancenase Pockethaler (nasal MDI)
Vancenase AQ nasal spray

budesonide Pulmicort turbuhaler
& (US, Aus, Can, Sw, UK, NZ),
& neb soln (US, UK, Can, NZ)
Rhinocort nasal MDI
(US, elsewhere),
nasal turbuhaler,
(Can, Sw),
nasal spray (Can)
Spirocort turbuhaler (Dk),
neb soln (Dk)
Nebuamp neb soln (Can)

dexamethasone Decadron Respihaler
sodium phosphate Phosphate

flunisolide Aerobid MDI
Aerobid-M MDI, with menthol as
flavouring agent
Bronalide MDI (Can)
Nasalide nasal spray
Nasarel nasal spray
Rhinalar nasal spray (Can)

fluticasone Flixotide MDI, diskhaler (UK, SA),
accuhaler (UK)
propionate Flonase nasal spray
Flovent MDI, rotahaler (US, 4/98)

triamcinolone Azmacort MDI
acetonide Nasacort nasal MDI

Anticholinergics (bronchodilators)

ipratropium Atrovent MDI, inh soln
bromide (US, elsewhere),
nasal MDI (US, Can)

Beta-agonists (bronchodilators)

albuterol* Aerolin autohaler (UK)
(salbutamol is Airet inh soln
WHO recommended Asmavent inh soln (Can)
name generally Proventil MDI, inh soln, syrup,
in use outside tablets,
the U.S.) Repetabs (SA tablets),
Proventil HFA non-CFC MDI (US)
Respolin MDI, autohaler (NZ)
Ventolin MDI, inh soln, tablets,
neb soln, Rotacaps,
for Rotahaler, syrup
(US, elsewhere),
injection (Can),
accuhaler (UK)
Ventodisk diskhaler (Can, UK)
Volmax ER tablets
Airomir non-CFC MDI (NZ)

* MDI uses albuterol, all other forms (tablets, etc.)
use albuterol sulfate

+ bambuterol hydrochloride Bambec tablet

bitolterol mesylate Tornalate MDI

ephedrine Ephedrine inh soln (Can)

epinephrine Bronkaid Mist MDI, OTC, epinephrine
in form of nitrate
and hydrochloride
& May have been discontinued in Canada
Bronkaid Mist MDI, OTC**
Medihaler-Epi MDI, OTC** (discontinued 1997)
Primatene Mist MDI, OTC
Primatene Mist MDI, OTC**
Sus-Phrine injection
** as epinephrine bitartrate

fenoterol Berotec MDI, inh soln, tablets
hydrobromide (Can, Aus, NZ)
Berotec Forte MDI (Can), 2 times
larger dose than

formoterol fumarate Foradil MDI (Sw, UK, Can)
+ Oxeze turbuhaler

isoetharine Bronkosol inh soln
hydrochloride Bronkometer MDI
Isoetharine inh soln

isoproterenol Medihaler-Iso MDI, as sulfate
Isuprel MDI, neb soln (Can),
as hydrochloride
& Discontinued in Canada?

+ levalbuterol Xopenex neb soln

metaproterenol Alupent MDI, inh soln, tablets,
sulfate neb soln, syrup
(orciprenaline Metaprel MDI, inh soln, syrup,
sulfate is WHO tablets
recommended name Metaproterenol inh soln
generally in use Sulfate
outside the U.S.) Arm-a-Med

orciprenaline sulfate -- see metaproterenol sulfate

pirbuterol acetate Maxair MDI, autohaler

procaterol HCl Pro-Air MDI (Can)

salbutamol -- see albuterol

salmeterol Serevent MDI (US, elsewhere),
xinafoate diskhaler (US - Diskus,
UK, SA),
accuhaler (UK)

terbutaline Brethaire MDI
sulfate Brethine tablets, neb soln,
Bricanyl tablets, injection
(US, elsewhere),
(Aus, Can, Sw, UK)

Leukotriene Receptor Antagonists

zafirlukast Accolate tablets (US,
available Nov/96)
zileuton Zyflo tablets (US)
montelukast Singulair tablets (US, Feb/98)

Xanthines (bronchodilators)

theophylline Aerolate TD capsules, liquid
Quibron-T tablets, SA tablets
(see also
Respbid SR tablets
Slo-bid ER capsules
Slo-phylline ER capsules
T-Phyl CR tablets
Theo-24 ER capsules
Theo-Dur ER tablets
Theo-Dur SA capsules
Theo-X tablets
Theolair tablets, SR tablets,
Uniphyl CR tablets

dyphylline*** Lufyllin tablets, injection,
*** similar to theophylline

oxtriphylline**** Choledyl DR tablets, SA tablets

**** oxtriphylline is the choline salt of theophylline,
and 400 mg of it is equivalent to 254 mg of
anhydrous theophylline


Combination Medications:

Brand name Chemical names of ingredients Comments
---------- ----------------------------- --------

+Advair salmeterol, fluticasone Diskus

Aerocrom cromolyn sodium, albuterol MDI, synchroner (UK)

Asbron G theophylline sodium glycinate, elixir, tablets
guaifenesin (expectorant)

Berodual ipratropium HBr, fenoterol HBr MDI (UK)

Bronkaid Caplets ephedrine sulfate, guaifenesin tablets, OTC

+Combivent salbutamol (albuterol), MDI (Can)
ipratropium bromide

Congess guaifenesin, pseudoephedrine tablets

Duo-Medihaler isoproterenol hydrochloride, MDI
phenylephrine bitartrate

Duovent fenoterol hydrobromide, MDI (UK)
ipratropium bromide

Marax ephedrine sulfate, tablets
Atarax (hydroxyzine HCl)

Primatene Tablets theophylline, ephedrine HCl tablets, OTC

Quadrinal theophylline calcium salicylate, tablets
ephedrine HCl, phenobarbital,
potassium iodide

Rynatuss carbetapentane tannate, tablets, syrup
chlorpheniramine tannate,
ephedrine tannate,
phenylephrine tannate

Tedral theophylline, ephedrine HCl, tablets (Can),
phenobarbital no longer
in US

Ventolin-Plus albuterol, beclomethasone MDI (Sw)



aerosol inhalers:

MDI - metered-dose inhaler, consisting of an aerosol unit and
plastic mouthpiece. This is currently the most common
type of inhaler, and is widely available.

autohaler - MDI made by 3M which is activated by one's breath, and
doesn't need the breath-hand coordination that a
regular MDI does. Available in U.S., UK, and NZ.

integra - MDI with compact spacer device. Available in UK.

respihaler - aerosol inhaler for Decadron (see table above). I have
no idea how this differs from the usual MDI. Available
in the U.S.

syncroner - MDI with elongated mouthpiece, used as training device
to see if medication is being inhaled properly.
Available in Canada and UK.

dry powder inhalers:

accuhaler - dry powder inhaler for use with Serevent. It contains
a foil strip with 60 blisters, each containing one dose
of the drug. Pressing the lever punctures the blister,
allowing the drug to be inhaled through the mouthpiece.
Available in the UK.

diskhaler - dry powder inhaler. The drug is kept in a series of
little pouches on a disk; the diskhaler punctures
the pouch and drug is inhaled through the mouthpiece.
Currently available in Canada, South Africa, and UK;
Serevent Diskus newly available in U.S.

insufflator - dry powder nasal inhaler used with Rynacrom cartridges.
Each cartridge contains one dose; the inhaler opens the
cartridge, allowing the powder to be blown into the
nose by squeezing the bulb. Available in Canada.

rotahaler - dry powder inhaler used with Rotacaps capsules.
Each capsule contains one dose; the inhaler opens
the capsule such that the powder may be inhaled
through the mouthpiece. Available in the U.S.,
Canada, and UK for Ventolin. In Canada, Beclovent
Rotacaps are also available, as are Becotide
Rotacaps in the UK.

spinhaler - dry powder inhaler used with Intal capsules for
spinhaler. Each capsule contains one dose; the
inhaler opens the capsule such that the powder
may be inhaled through the mouthpiece. Available
in Canada, the UK, and the Netherlands. No longer
manufactured in the U.S.

turbuhaler - dry powder inhaler. The drug is in form of a pellet;
when body of inhaler is rotated, prescribed amount of
drug is ground off this pellet. The powder is then
inhaled through a fluted aperture on top. Available
in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Switzerland, and
the UK (spelled 'turbohaler' in the UK).

forms of tablets:

CR - controlled release. This means that the drug has a
constant rate of release.
DR - delayed release. This generally refers to enteric-
coated tablets which are designed to release the drug
in the intestine where the pH is in the alkaline range.
ER - extended release. Dosage forms which are designed to
release the drug over an extended period of time, such
as implants which release drug over a period of
one or two months or years.
SA - sustained action. Used interchangeably with CR
(above), except that SA usually refers to the
pharmacologic action while CR refers to the drug
release process.
TD - time delayed. This is slightly different from DR in
that the drug release is designed to occur after a
certain period of time, such as pellets coated to a
certain thickness, multi-layered tablets, tablets
within a capsule, or double-compressed tablets.

forms of solutions:

neb soln - nebulizer solution. Drug comes in nebules for use with

inh soln - inhalation solution. Some manufacturers use this as a
synonym for neb soln; others use it to mean that drug
comes in bottle with dropper, distinct from neb soln.

country abbreviations:

Aus - Australia
Can - Canada
Dk - Denmark
NL - Netherlands
NZ - New Zealand
SA - South Africa
Sw - Switzerland
UK - United Kingdom
US - United States


OTC - over-the-counter, all other medications are
prescription-only in the U.S.


The Physicians' Desk Reference is published annually by:
Medical Economics Data Production Company
Montvale, NJ 07645-1742
ISBN 1-56363-061-3
It is a compendium of official, FDA-approved prescription
drug labeling. The FDA is the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The Compendium of Pharmaceuticals and Specialties is published annually
Canadian Pharmaceutical Association
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1G 3Y6
ISBN 0-919115-94-2



Andrew Benham
Lawrence M. (Larry) Bezeau BEZ...@UNB.CA
Daniel Canonica
John Connett
Mark Delany
Walter de Wit
Steve Dyer
Ian Ford
Susan Graham
Natasha Hadfield
Rick Hughes rich...@Newbridge.COM
Paul Hulbert
Simon Kelley
Jon Krom
Jesper Duwe Nielsen
Rick Nopper
Kevin A. Nunan
Janet Pierson
Matt Ray
Derrick Rea
John Saunders
Stephan Seillier
John R. Strohm
Elaine Turner, M.D.
John Underhay
David Williams
Travis Lee Winfrey


Disclaimer: I am not a physician; I am only a reasonably
well-informed asthmatic. This information is for
educational purposes only, and should be used only as
a supplement to, not a substitute for, professional
medical advice.

Copyright 1996 by Patricia Wrean, 1997 by Marie Goldenberg. Permission is
given to freely copy or distribute this FAQ provided that it is
distributed in full without modification, and that such distribution is
not intended for profit.

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