News Brief

Preservatives in nebulizer inhalers criticized

Based on studies by University of Florida (UF) pharmacists, the Florida Board of Pharmacy is alerting pharmacists statewide to examine the inclusion of preservatives in bronchodilator nebulizer solutions before prescribing them to asthma patients.

The UF study is critical of the preservative benzalkonium chloride (BAC) and the stabilizer edetate disodium (EDTA) found in many air-compression spray inhalers used for asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis. The study charges that in standard prescription vials, BAC and EDTA can constrict a patient’s airways, counteracting or even worsening the effects of the medication.

The state’s pharmacy board noted that preservative-free, sterile, single-dose vials of nebulizer products are available, and it warns pharmacists that not all of the products are therapeutically equivalent, based on the existence or exclusion of preservatives. The board also notes that the warning does not include standard "press and breathe" metered dose inhalers, which do not contain preservatives.

For more details, contact Leslie Hendeles, PharmD, at the University of Florida Health Science Center. Telephone: (352) 466-0456.