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Mechanism Of Action
Formoterol fumarate is a long-acting, beta2-adrenergic receptor agonist (beta2-agonist). Inhaled formoterol fumarate acts locally in the lung as a bronchodilator. In vitro studies have shown that formoterol has more than 200-fold greater agonist activity at beta2-receptors than at beta1-receptors. Although beta2-receptors are the predominant adrenergic receptors in bronchial smooth muscle and beta1-receptors are the predominant receptors in the heart, there are also beta2-receptors in the human heart comprising 10% to 50% of the total beta-adrenergic receptors. The precise function of these receptors has not been established, but they raise the possibility that even highly selective beta2-agonists may have cardiac effects.
The pharmacologic effects of beta2-adrenoceptor agonist drugs, including formoterol, are at least in part attributable to stimulation of intracellular adenyl cyclase, the enzyme that catalyzes the conversion of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to cyclic-3', 5'-adenosine monophosphate (cyclic AMP). Increased cyclic AMP levels cause relaxation of bronchial smooth muscle and inhibition of release of mediators of immediate hypersensitivity from cells, especially from mast cells.
In vitro tests show that formoterol is an inhibitor of the release of mast cell mediators, such as histamine and leukotrienes, from the human lung. Formoterol also inhibits histamine-induced plasma albumin extravasation in anesthetized guinea pigs and inhibits allergen-induced eosinophil influx in dogs with airway hyper-responsiveness. The relevance of these in vitro and animal findings to humans with COPD is unknown.
Systemic Safety and Pharmacokinetic / Pharmacodynamic Relationships
The major adverse effects of inhaled beta2-agonists occur as a result of excessive activation of the systemic beta-adrenergic receptors. The most common adverse effects in adults include skeletal muscle tremor and cramps, insomnia, tachycardia, decreases in plasma potassium, and increases in plasma glucose.
Changes in serum potassium and serum glucose were evaluated in 12 COPD patients following inhalation of single doses of PERFOROMIST Inhalation Solution containing 10, 20 and 244 mcg of formoterol fumarate (calculated on an anhydrous basis) in a crossover study. At 1 hour after treatment with formoterol fumarate inhalation solution, mean (± standard deviation) serum glucose rose 26 ± 30, 29 ± 28, and 38± 44 mg/dL, respectively, and was not significantly different from baseline or trough level at 24 hours post-dose. At 1 hour after dosing with formoterol fumarate inhalation solution 244 mcg, serum potassium fell by 0.68 ± 0.4mEq/L, and was not different from baseline or trough level at 24 hours post-dose.
Linear pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic (PK/PD) relationships between urinary formoterol excretion and decreases in serum potassium, increases in plasma glucose, and increases in heart rate were generally observed with another inhalation formulation of formoterol fumarate and hence would be expected with PERFOROMIST Inhalation Solution also. Following single dose administration of 10-fold the recommended clinical dose of the other formoterol fumarate inhalation formulation having comparable exposure to single dose of 244 mcg of PERFOROMIST Inhalation Solution (approximately 12-fold the recommended clinical dose) in healthy subjects, the formoterol plasma concentration was found to be highly correlated with the reduction in plasma potassium concentration. Data from this study showed that maximum reductions from baseline in plasma potassium ranged from 0.55 to 1.52 mmol/L with a median maximum reduction of 1.01 mmol/L. Generally, the maximum effect on plasma potassium was noted 1 to 3 hours after peak formoterol plasma concentrations were achieved.
In the dose-ranging study of PERFOROMIST Inhalation Solution, ECG-determined heart rate increased by a mean of 6 ±3 beats per minute at 6 hours after a single dose of 244 mcg, but was back to predose level at 16-24 hours.
The effect of PERFOROMIST Inhalation Solution on heart rate and cardiac rhythm was studied in a 12-week clinical trial comparing PERFOROMIST Inhalation Solution to placebo and an active control treatment. COPD patients, including 105 patients exposed to PERFOROMIST Inhalation Solution, under went continuous electrocardiographic (Holter) monitoring during two 24-hour periods (study baseline and after 8-12 weeks of treatment). ECGs were performed pre-dose and at 2 to 3 hours post-dose at study baseline (prior to dosing) and after 4, 8 and 12 weeks of treatment. Bazett's and Fridericia's methods were used to correct the QT interval for heart rate (QTcB and QTcF, respectively). The mean increase from baseline in QTcB interval over the 12-week treatment period was ≤ 4.8 msec for PERFOROMIST Inhalation Solution and ≤ 4.6 msec for placebo. The percent of patients who experienced a maximum change in QTc greater than 60 msec at any time during the 12-week treatment period was 0% and 1.8% for PERFOROMIST Inhalation Solution and placebo, respectively, based on Bazett's correction, and 1.6% and 0.9%, respectively, based on Fridericia's correction. Prolonged QT was reported as an adverse event in 1 (0.8%) patient treated with PERFOROMIST Inhalation Solution and 2 (1.8%) placebo patients. No occurrences of atrial fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia were observed during 24-hour Holter monitoring or reported as adverse events in patients treated with PERFOROMIST Inhalation Solution after the start of dosing. No increase in supraventricular tachycardia over placebo-treated subjects was observed. The mean increase in maximum heart rate from baseline to 8-12 weeks after the start of dosing was 0.6 beats per minute (bpm) for patients treated with PERFOROMIST Inhalation Solution twice daily compared to 1.2 bpm for placebo patients. There were no clinically meaningful differences from placebo in acute or chronic effects on heart rate, including QTcB and QTcF, or cardiac rhythm resulting from treatment with PERFOROMIST Inhalation Solution.
At an exposure from formoterol fumarate dry powder formulation comparable to approximately 12-fold the recommended dose of PERFOROMIST Inhalation Solution, a mean maximum increase of pulse rate of 26 bpm was observed 6 hours post dose in healthy subjects. This study showed that the maximum increase of mean corrected QT interval (QTc) was 25 msec when calculated using Bazett's correction and was 8 msec when calculated using Fridericia's correction. The QTc returned to baseline within 12 to 24 hours post-dose. Formoterol plasma concentrations were weakly correlated with pulse rate and increase of QTc duration. The effects on pulse rate and QTc interval are known pharmacological effects of this class of study drug and were not unexpected at this supratherapeutic formoterol fumarate inhalation dose.
Tachyphylaxis / Tolerance
Tolerance to the effects of inhaled beta-agonists can occur with regularly-scheduled, chronic use. In a placebo-controlled clinical trial in 351 adult patients with COPD, the bronchodilating effect of PERFOROMIST Inhalation Solution was determined by the FEV1 area under the curve over 12 hours following dosing on Day 1 and after 12 weeks of treatment. The effect of PERFOROMIST Inhalation Solution did not decrease after 12 weeks of twice-daily treatment (Figures 1 and 2).
Information on the pharmacokinetics of formoterol (dry powder and/or inhalation solution) in plasma and/or urine is available in healthy subjects as well as patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease after oral inhalation of doses at and above the therapeutic dose.
Urinary excretion of unchanged formoterol was used as an indirect measure of systemic exposure. Plasma drug disposition data parallel urinary excretion, and the elimination half-lives calculated for urine and plasma are similar.
Pharmacokinetic properties of formoterol fumarate were evaluated in 12 COPD patients following inhalation of single doses of PERFOROMIST Inhalation Solution containing 10, 20 and 244 mcg of formoterol fumarate (calculated on an anhydrous basis) and 12 mcg formoterol fumarate dry powder, through 36 hours after single-dose administration. Formoterol fumarate concentrations in plasma following the 10 and 20 mcg doses of PERFOROMIST Inhalation Solution and the 12 mcg dose of formoterol fumarate dry powder were undetectable or only detected sporadically at very low concentrations. Following a single 244 mcg dose of PERFOROMIST Inhalation Solution (approximately 12 times the recommended clinical dose), formoterol fumarate concentrations were readily measurable in plasma, exhibiting rapid absorption into plasma, and reaching a maximum drug concentration of 72 pg/mL within approximately 12 minutes of dosing.
The mean amount of formoterol excreted unchanged in 24 hour urine following single oral inhalation doses of 10, 20, and 244 mcg PERFOROMIST Inhalation Solution were found to be 109.7 ng, 349.6 ng, and 3317.5 ng, respectively. These findings indicate a near dose proportional increase in systemic exposure within the dose range tested.
When 12 mcg of a dry powder formulation of formoterol fumarate was given twice daily to COPD patients by oral inhalation for 12 weeks, the accumulation index, based on the urinary excretion of unchanged formoterol was 1.19 to 1.38. This suggests some accumulation of formoterol in plasma with multiple dosing. Although multiple-dose pharmacokinetic data is unavailable from PERFOROMIST Inhalation Solution, assumption of linear pharmacokinetics allows a reasonable prediction of minimal accumulation based on single-dose pharmacokinetics. As with many drug products for oral inhalation, it is likely that the majority of the inhaled formoterol fumarate delivered is swallowed and then absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract.
The binding of formoterol to human plasma proteins in vitro was 61% to 64% at concentrations from 0.1 to 100 ng/mL. Binding to human serum albumin in vitro was 31% to 38% over a range of 5 to 500 ng/mL. The concentrations of formoterol used to assess the plasma protein binding were higher than those achieved in plasma following inhalation of a single 244 mcg dose of PERFOROMIST Inhalation Solution.
Formoterol is metabolized primarily by direct glucuronidation at either the phenolic or aliphatic hydroxyl group and O-demethylation followed by glucuronide conjugation at either phenolic hydroxyl groups. Minor pathways involve sulfate conjugation of formoterol and deformylation followed by sulfate conjugation. The most prominent pathway involves direct conjugation at the phenolic hydroxyl group. The second major pathway involves O-demethylation followed by conjugation at the phenolic 2'-hydroxyl group. In vitro studies showed that multiple drug-metabolizing enzymes catalyze glucuronidation (UGT1A1, 1A8, 1A9, 2B7 and 2B15 were the most predominant enzymes) and O-demethylation (CYP2D6, CYP2C19, CYP2C9 and CYP2A6) of formoterol. Formoterol did not inhibit CYP450 enzymes at therapeutically relevant concentrations. Some patients may be deficient in CYP2D6 or 2C19 or both. Whether a deficiency in one or both of these isozymes results in elevated systemic exposure to formoterol or systemic adverse effects has not been adequately explored.
Following administration of single 10, 20, and 244 mcg PERFOROMIST Inhalation Solution doses (calculated on an anhydrous basis) delivered via nebulizer in 12 COPD patients, on average, about 1.1% to 1.7% of the dose was excreted in the urine as unchanged formoterol as compared to about 3.4% excreted unchanged following inhalation administration of 12 mcg of formoterol fumarate dry powder. Renal clearance of formoterol following inhalation administration of PERFOROMIST Inhalation Solution in these subjects was about 157 mL/min. Based on plasma concentrations measured following the 244 mcg dose, the mean terminal elimination half-life was determined to be 7 hours.
As reported for another formoterol fumarate inhalation formulation, upon correction for body weight, pharmacokinetics of formoterol fumarate did not differ significantly between males and females.
Geriatric, Pediatric, Hepatic/Renal Impairment
The pharmacokinetics of formoterol fumarate has not been studied in elderly and pediatric patient populations. The pharmacokinetics of formoterol fumarate has not been studied in subjects with hepatic or renal impairment.
Studies in laboratory animals (minipigs, rodents, and dogs) have demonstrated the occurrence of cardiac arrhythmias and sudden death (with histologic evidence of myocardial necrosis) when beta-agonists and methylxanthines are administered concurrently. The clinical significance of these findings is unknown. [See DRUG INTERACTIONS, Xanthine Derivatives, Steroids, or Diuretics]
Adult COPD Trial
PERFOROMIST (formoterol fumarate) Inhalation Solution was evaluated in a 12-week, double-blind, placebo- and active-controlled, randomized, parallel-group, multicenter trial conducted in the United States. Of a total enrollment of 351 adults (age range: 40 to 86 years; mean age: 63 years) with COPD who had a mean pre-bronchodilator FEV1 of 1.34 liters (44% of predicted), 237 patients were randomized to PERFOROMIST Inhalation Solution 20 mcg or placebo, administered twice daily via a PARI-LC Plus® nebulizer with a PRONEB® Ultra compressor. The diagnosis of COPD was based upon a prior clinical diagnosis of COPD, a smoking history (at least 10 pack-years), age (at least 40 years), and spirometry results (pre-bronchodilator baseline FEV1 at least 30% and less than 70% of the predicted value, and the FEV1/FVC less than 70%). About 58% of patients had bronchodilator reversibility, defined as a 10% or greater increase in FEV1 after inhalation of 2 actuations (180 mcg) of albuterol from a metered dose inhaler. About 86% (106) of patients treated with PERFOROMIST Inhalation Solution and 74% (84) of placebo patients completed the trial.
PERFOROMIST Inhalation Solution 20 mcg twice daily resulted in significantly greater post-dose bronchodilation (as measured by serial FEV1 for 12 hours post-dose; the primary efficacy analysis) compared to placebo when evaluated at endpoint (week 12 for completers and last observation for dropouts). Similar results were seen on Day 1 and at subsequent time points during the trial.
Mean FEV1 measurements at Day 1 (Figure 1) and at endpoint (Figure 2) are shown below.
Figure 1: Mean* FEV1 at Day 1
Figure 2: Mean* FEV1 at Endpoint after 12 Weeks of
*Figures show least-squares means adjusted for baseline FEV1
Patients treated with PERFOROMIST Inhalation Solution used less rescue albuterol during the trial compared to patients treated with placebo.
Examination of age ( ≥ 65 or younger) and gender subgroups did not identify differences in response to PERFOROMIST Inhalation Solution. There were too few non-Caucasian subjects to assess differences in populations defined by race adequately.
In the 12 week study, 78% of subjects achieved a 15% increase from baseline FEV1 following the first dose of PERFOROMIST Inhalation Solution 20 mcg. In these subjects, the median time to onset of bronchodilation, defined as 15% increase in FEV1, was 11.7 minutes. When defined as an increase in FEV1 of 12% and 200 mL, the time to onset of bronchodilation was 13.1 minutes after dosing. The median time to peak bronchodilator effect was 2 hours after dosing.
Last reviewed on RxList: 1/14/2016
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
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