Search the FAQ Archives

3 - A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M
N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z - Internet FAQ Archives FAQ: Asthma Medications

[ Usenet FAQs | Web FAQs | Documents | RFC Index | Cities ]
Archive-name: medicine/asthma/medications
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 17 Sep 2000
Orginal-author: Patricia Wrean <>
Version: 5.2

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
 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                             BEZEAU@UNB.CA
  Daniel Canonica
  John Connett                          
  Mark Delany                    
  Walter de Wit                   
  Steve Dyer                                  
  Ian Ford                              
  Susan Graham                            
  Natasha Hadfield        
  Rick Hughes                                   richardh@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. 

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic:

[ Usenet FAQs | Web FAQs | Documents | RFC Index ]

Send corrections/additions to the FAQ Maintainer:

Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM