Beta 2-agonists administered by a dry powder inhaler can be used in acute asthma

A Nana, P Youngchaiyud, N Maranetra, J Boe, C G Löfdahl, O Selroos, E Ståhl
Respiratory Medicine 1998, 92 (2): 167-72
Patients with acute asthma attending the emergency room were included in a double-blind, double-dummy and parallel group study to investigate whether a dry powder inhaler (Turbuhaler) can be used in acute asthma. If so, the aim was to establish the potency relationship between a beta 2-agonist (salbutamol) administered by the dry powder inhaler and the pressurized metered-dose inhaler (pMDI). Eighty-six patients with a mean age of 38 years and forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) of 37% of predicted normal value were randomized at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok to either Turbuhaler (50 micrograms dose -1) or pMDI (100 micrograms dose -1) with spacer (Volumatic). Doses of 100 + 300 + 300 + 300 micrograms salbutamol were given at 0, 15, 30 and 45 min via Turbuhaler and repeated at 90, 105, 120 and 135 min (total dose 2000 micrograms). The same inhalation schedule with identical number of doses was used for the pMDI with spacer but in double doses (total 4000 micrograms), assuming a dose-potency ratio of salbutamol administered via Turbuhaler compared with the pMDI of 2:1. At 85 min after the first dose, 60 mg prednisolone was given orally. FEV1 was measured 10 min after each dosing. Peak inspiratory flow (PIF) through Turbuhaler was measured on each dosing occasion. Plasma (P)-salbutamol, serum (S)-potassium concentrations, pulse rate, blood pressure and adverse events were recorded. No statistically significant differences were observed in the increase in FEV1 between the groups: 55 min (165 min) after the first dose, the increase was 0.47 l and 47% (0.64 l and 63%) in the Turbuhaler group, and 0.46 l and 42% (0.68 l and 65%) in the pMDI group. Mean PIF though Turbuhaler was 49 l min -1 (range 26-68) at first inhalation and increased to 60 l min -1 (range 38-86). There was no correlation between the initial PIF through Turbuhaler and the initial FEV1 response. P-salbutamol and S-potassium values correlated well. A larger decrease in S-potassium was noticed after 75 min in the pMDI group (0.38 mmol l -1) compared with the Turbuhaler group (0.23 mmol l -1) (P = 0.02). In conclusion, the use of a dry powder inhaler, Turbuhaler, was investigated in the emergency room treatment of acute asthma, and was as effective as a pMDI with spacer. Half the dose of salbutamol administered via Turbuhaler was as effective as the full dose given via a pMDI with spacer.

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