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Mechanism of Action
Budesonide is an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid that exhibits potent glucocorticoid activity and weak mineralocorticoid activity. In standard in vitro and animal models, budesonide has approximately a 200-fold higher affinity for the glucocorticoid receptor and a 1000-fold higher topical anti-inflammatory potency than cortisol (rat croton oil ear edema assay). As a measure of systemic activity, budesonide is 40 times more potent than cortisol when administered subcutaneously and 25 times more potent when administered orally in the rat thymus involution assay. The clinical significance of these findings is unknown.
The activity of PULMICORT RESPULES is due to the parent drug, budesonide. In glucocorticoid receptor affinity studies, the 22R form was two times as active as the 22S epimer. In vitro studies indicated that the two forms of budesonide do not interconvert.
The precise mechanism of corticosteroid actions on inflammation in asthma is not well known. Inflammation is an important component in the pathogenesis of asthma. Corticosteroids have been shown to have a wide range of inhibitory activities against multiple cell types (e.g., mast cells, eosinophils, neutrophils, macrophages, and lymphocytes) and mediators (e.g., histamine, eicosanoids, leukotrienes, and cytokines) involved in allergic- and non-allergic-mediated inflammation. The anti-inflammatory actions of corticosteroids may contribute to their efficacy in asthma.
Studies in asthmatic patients have shown a favorable ratio between topical anti-inflammatory activities and systemic corticosteroid effects over a wide dose range of inhaled budesonide in a variety of formulations and delivery systems including an inhalation-driven, multi-dose dry powder inhaler and the inhalation suspension for nebulization. This is explained by a combination of a relatively high local antiinflammatory effect, extensive first pass hepatic degradation of orally absorbed drug (85-95%) and the low potency of metabolites (see below).
The therapeutic effects of conventional doses of orally inhaled budesonide are largely explained by its direct local action on the respiratory tract. To confirm that systemic absorption is not a significant factor in the clinical efficacy of inhaled budesonide, a clinical study in adult patients with asthma was performed comparing 400 mcg budesonide administered via a pressurized metered dose inhaler with a tube spacer to 1400 mcg of oral budesonide and placebo. The study demonstrated the efficacy of inhaled budesonide but not orally administered budesonide, even though systemic budesonide exposure was comparable for both treatments, indicating that the inhaled treatment is working locally in the lung. Thus, the therapeutic effect of conventional doses of orally inhaled budesonide are largely explained by its direct action on the respiratory tract.
Improvement in the control of asthma symptoms following inhalation of PULMICORT RESPULES can occur within 2-8 days of beginning treatment, although maximum benefit may not be achieved for 4-6 weeks.
Budesonide administered via a dry powder inhaler has been shown in various challenge models (including histamine, methacholine, sodium metabisulfite, and adenosine monophosphate) to decrease bronchial hyperresponsiveness in asthmatic patients. The clinical relevance of these models is not certain.
Pre-treatment with budesonide administered as 1600 mcg daily (800 mcg twice daily) via a dry powder inhaler for 2 weeks reduced the acute (early-phase reaction) and delayed (late-phase reaction) decrease in FEV1 following inhaled allergen challenge.
HPA Axis Effects
The effects of PULMICORT RESPULES (budesonide inhalation suspension) on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis were studied in three, 12-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies in 293 pediatric patients, 6 months to 8 years of age, with persistent asthma. For most patients, the ability to increase cortisol production in response to stress, as assessed by the short cosyntropin (ACTH) stimulation test, remained intact with PULMICORT RESPULES (budesonide inhalation suspension) treatment at recommended doses. In the subgroup of children age 6 months to 2 years (n=21) receiving a total daily dose of PULMICORT RESPULES equivalent to 0.25 mg (n=5), 0.5 mg (n=5), 1 mg (n=8), or placebo (n=3), the mean change from baseline in ACTH-stimulated cortisol levels showed a decline in peak stimulated cortisol at 12 weeks compared to an increase in the placebo group. These mean differences were not statistically significant compared to placebo. Another 12-week study in 141 pediatric patients 6 to 12 months of age with mild to moderate asthma or recurrent/persistent wheezing was conducted. All patients were randomized to receive either 0.5 mg or 1 mg of PULMICORT RESPULES (budesonide inhalation suspension) or placebo once daily. A total of 28, 17, and 31 patients in the PULMICORT RESPULES (budesonide inhalation suspension) 0.5 mg, 1 mg, and placebo arms respectively, had an evaluation of serum cortisol levels post-ACTH stimulation both at baseline and at the end of the study. The mean change from baseline to Week 12 ACTH-stimulated minus basal plasma cortisol levels did not indicate adrenal suppression in patients treated with PULMICORT RESPULES versus placebo. However, 7 patients in this study (4 of whom received PULMICORT RESPULES (budesonide inhalation suspension) 0.5 mg, 2 of whom received PULMICORT RESPULES (budesonide inhalation suspension) 1 mg and 1 of whom received placebo) showed a shift from normal baseline stimulated cortisol level ( ≥ 500 nmol/L) to a subnormal level ( < 500 nmol/L) at Week 12. In 4 of these patients receiving PULMICORT RESPULES (budesonide inhalation suspension) , the cortisol values were near the cutoff value of 500 nmol/L.
The effects of PULMICORT RESPULES (budesonide inhalation suspension) at doses of 0.5 mg twice daily, and 1 mg and 2 mg twice daily (2 times and 4 times the highest recommended total daily dose, respectively) on 24-hour urinary cortisol excretion were studied in 18 patients between 6 to 15 years of age with persistent asthma in a cross-over study design (4 weeks of treatment per dose level). There was a dose-related decrease in urinary cortisol excretion at 2 and 4 times the recommended daily dose. The two higher doses of PULMICORT RESPULES (budesonide inhalation suspension) (1 and 2 mg twice daily) showed statistically significantly reduced (4352%) urinary cortisol excretion compared to the run-in period. The highest recommended dose of PULMICORT RESPULES (budesonide inhalation suspension) , 1 mg total daily dose, did not show statistically significantly reduced urinary cortisol excretion compared to the run-in period.
PULMICORT RESPULES (budesonide inhalation suspension) , like other inhaled corticosteroid products, may impact the HPA axis, especially in susceptible individuals, in younger children, and in patients given high doses for prolonged periods [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
In asthmatic children 4-6 years of age, the total absolute bioavailability (ie, lung + oral) following administration of PULMICORT RESPULES (budesonide inhalation suspension) via jet nebulizer was approximately 6% of the labeled dose.
In children, a peak plasma concentration of 2.6 nmol/L was obtained approximately 20 minutes after nebulization of a 1 mg dose. Systemic exposure, as measured by AUC and Cmax, is similar for young children and adults after inhalation of the same dose of PULMICORT RESPULES (budesonide inhalation suspension) .
In asthmatic children 4-6 years of age, the volume of distribution at steady-state of budesonide was 3 L/kg, approximately the same as in healthy adults. Budesonide is 85-90% bound to plasma proteins, the degree of binding being constant over the concentration range (1-100 nmol/L) achieved with, and exceeding, recommended doses. Budesonide showed little or no binding to corticosteroid-binding globulin. Budesonide rapidly equilibrated with red blood cells in a concentration independent manner with a blood/plasma ratio of about 0.8.
In vitro studies with human liver homogenates have shown that budesonide is rapidly and extensively metabolized. Two major metabolites formed via cytochrome P450 (CYP) isoenzyme 3A4 (CYP3A4) catalyzed biotransformation have been isolated and identified as 16α-hydroxyprednisolone and 6β-hydroxybudesonide. The corticosteroid activity of each of these two metabolites is less than 1% of that of the parent compound. No qualitative difference between the in vitro and in vivo metabolic patterns has been detected. Negligible metabolic inactivation was observed in human lung and serum preparations.
Budesonide is primarily cleared by the liver. Budesonide is excreted in urine and feces in the form of metabolites. In adults, approximately 60% of an intravenous radiolabeled dose was recovered in the urine. No unchanged budesonide was detected in the urine.
In asthmatic children 4-6 years of age, the terminal half-life of budesonide after nebulization is 2.3 hours, and the systemic clearance is 0.5 L/min, which is approximately 50% greater than in healthy adults after adjustment for differences in weight.
No differences in pharmacokinetics due to race, gender, or age have been identified.
Reduced liver function may affect the elimination of corticosteroids. The pharmacokinetics of budesonide were affected by compromised liver function as evidenced by a doubled systemic availability after oral ingestion. The intravenous pharmacokinetics of budesonide were, however, similar in cirrhotic patients and in healthy adults.
The disposition of budesonide when delivered by inhalation from a dry powder inhaler at doses of 200 or 400 mcg twice daily for at least 3 months was studied in eight lactating women with asthma from 1 to 6 months postpartum. Systemic exposure to budesonide in these women appears to be comparable to that in non-lactating women with asthma from other studies. Breast milk obtained over eight hours post-dose revealed that the maximum concentration of budesonide for the 400 and 800 mcg doses was 0.39 and 0.78 nmol/L, respectively, and occurred within 45 minutes after dosing. The estimated oral daily dose of budesonide from breast milk to the infant is approximately 0.007 and 0.014 mcg/kg/day for the two dose regimens used in this study, which represents approximately 0.3% to 1% of the dose inhaled by the mother. Budesonide levels in plasma samples obtained from five infants at about 90 minutes after breast-feeding (and about 140 minutes after drug administration to the mother) were below quantifiable levels ( < 0.02 nmol/L in four infants and < 0.04 nmol/L in one infant) [see Use In Specific Populations, Nursing Mothers].
Inhibitors of cytochrome P450 enzymes
Ketoconazole: Ketoconazole, a strong inhibitor of cytochrome P450 (CYP) isoenzyme 3A4 (CYP3A4), the main metabolic enzyme for corticosteroids, increased plasma levels of orally ingested budesonide [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS and DRUG INTERACTIONS].
Cimetidine: At recommended doses, cimetidine, a nonspecific inhibitor of CYP enzymes, had a slight but clinically insignificant effect on the pharmacokinetics of oral budesonide.
Animal Toxicology Reproductive Toxicology
As with other corticosteroids, budesonide was teratogenic and embryocidal in rabbits and rats. Budesonide produced fetal loss, decreased pup weights, and skeletal abnormalities at a subcutaneous dose of 25 mcg/kg in rabbits (approximately 0.4 times the maximum recommended daily inhalation dose in adults on a mcg/m² basis) and at a subcutaneous dose of 500 mcg/kg in rats (approximately 4 times the maximum recommended daily inhalation dose in adults on a mcg/m² basis). In another study in rats, no teratogenic or embryocidal effects were seen at inhalation doses up to 250 mcg/kg (approximately 2 times the maximum recommended daily inhalation dose in adults on a mcg/m² basis).
Three double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel group, randomized U.S. clinical trials of 12-weeks duration each were conducted in 1018 pediatric patients, 6 months to 8 years of age, 657 males and 361 females (798 Caucasians, 140 Blacks, 56 Hispanics, 3 Asians, 21 Others) with persistent asthma of varying disease duration (2 to 107 months) and severity. Doses of 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, and 1 mg administered either once or twice daily were compared to placebo to provide information about appropriate dosing to cover a range of asthma severity. A Pari-LC-Jet Plus Nebulizer (with a face mask or mouthpiece) connected to a Pari Master compressor was used to deliver PULMICORT RESPULES (budesonide inhalation suspension) to patients in the 3 U.S. controlled clinical trials. The co-primary endpoints were nighttime and daytime asthma symptom scores (0-3 scale). Improvements were addressed in terms of the primary efficacy variables of changes from baseline to the double-blind treatment period in nighttime and daytime asthma symptom scores (scale 0-3) as recorded in the patient diaries. Baseline was defined as the mean of the last seven days prior to randomization). The double-blind treatment period was defined as the mean over 12 week treatment period. Each of the five doses discussed below were studied in one or two, but not all three of the U.S. studies.
Results of the 3 controlled clinical trials for recommended dosages of budesonide inhalation suspension (0.25 mg to 0.5 mg once or twice daily, or 1 mg once daily, up to a total daily dose of 1 mg) in 946 patients, 12 months to 8 years of age, are presented below. Statistically significant decreases in nighttime and daytime symptom scores of asthma were observed at PULMICORT RESPULES (budesonide inhalation suspension) doses of 0.25 mg once daily (one study), 0.25 mg twice daily, and 0.5 mg twice daily compared to placebo. Use of PULMICORT RESPULES (budesonide inhalation suspension) resulted in statistically significant decreases in either nighttime or daytime symptom scores, but not both, at doses of 1 mg once daily, and 0.5 mg once daily (one study). Symptom reduction in response to PULMICORT RESPULES (budesonide inhalation suspension) occurred across gender and age. Statistically significant reductions in the need for bronchodilator therapy were also observed at all the doses of PULMICORT RESPULES (budesonide inhalation suspension) studied.
Improvements in lung function were associated with PULMICORT RESPULES (budesonide inhalation suspension) in the subgroup of patients capable of performing lung function testing. Statistically significant increases were seen in FEV1 [PULMICORT RESPULES (budesonide inhalation suspension) 0.5 mg once daily and 1 mg once daily (one study); 0.5 mg twice daily] and morning PEF [PULMICORT RESPULES (budesonide inhalation suspension) 1 mg once daily (one study); 0.25 mg twice daily; 0.5 mg twice daily] compared to placebo.
A numerical reduction in nighttime and daytime symptom scores (0-3 scale) of asthma was observed within 2-8 days, although maximum benefit was not achieved for 4-6 weeks after starting treatment. The reduction in nighttime and daytime asthma symptom scores was maintained throughout the 12 weeks of the double-blind trials.
Patients Not Receiving Inhaled Corticosteroid Therapy
The efficacy of PULMICORT RESPULES (budesonide inhalation suspension) at doses of 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, and 1 mg once daily was evaluated in 344 pediatric patients, 12 months to 8 years of age, with mild to moderate persistent asthma (mean baseline nighttime asthma symptom scores of the treatment groups ranged from 1.07 to 1.34) who were not well controlled by bronchodilators alone. The changes from baseline to Weeks 0-12 in nighttime asthma symptom scores are shown in Figure 1. Nighttime asthma symptom scores showed statistically significant decreases in the patients treated with PULMICORT RESPULES compared to placebo. Similar decreases were also observed for daytime asthma symptom scores.
Changes from baseline to the double-blind phase for the budesonide treatment groups compared to placebo were made using analysis of variance techniques. The model included terms for the respective changes from baseline as the dependent variable and terms for treatment, center and treatment by center interaction as exploratory variables. (See Figures 1-3).
Figure 1: A 12-Week Trial in Pediatric Patients Not on Inhaled
Corticosteroid Therapy Prior to Study Entry.
Nighttime Asthma Change from Baseline
Patients Previously Maintained on Inhaled Corticosteroids
The efficacy of PULMICORT RESPULES (budesonide inhalation suspension) at doses of 0.25 mg and 0.5 mg twice daily was evaluated in 133 pediatric asthma patients, 4 to 8 years of age, previously maintained on inhaled corticosteroids (mean FEV1 79.5% predicted; mean baseline nighttime asthma symptom scores of the treatment groups ranged from 1.04 to 1.18; mean baseline dose of beclomethasone dipropionate of 265 mcg/day, ranging between 42 to 1008 mcg/day; mean baseline dose of triamcinolone acetonide of 572 mcg/day, ranging between 200 to 1200 mcg/day). The changes from baseline to Weeks 0-12 in nighttime asthma symptom scores are shown in Figure 2. Nighttime asthma symptom scores showed statistically significant decreases in patients treated with PULMICORT RESPULES (budesonide inhalation suspension) compared to placebo. Similar decreases were also observed for daytime asthma symptom scores.
Statistically significant increases in FEV1 compared to placebo were observed with PULMICORT RESPULES (budesonide inhalation suspension) at a dose of 0.5 mg twice daily and in morning PEF for both doses (0.25 mg and 0.5 mg twice daily).
Figure 2: A 12-Week Trial in Pediatric Patients Previously
Maintained on Inhaled Corticosteroid Therapy Prior to Study Entry.
Nighttime Asthma Change from Baseline
Patients Receiving Once-Daily or Twice-Daily Dosing
The efficacy of PULMICORT RESPULES (budesonide inhalation suspension) at doses of 0.25 mg once daily, 0.25 mg twice daily, 0.5 mg twice daily, and 1 mg once daily, was evaluated in 469 pediatric patients 12 months to 8 years of age (mean baseline nighttime asthma symptom scores of the treatment groups ranged from 1.13 to 1.31). Approximately 70% were not previously receiving inhaled corticosteroids. The changes from baseline to Weeks 0-12 in nighttime asthma symptom scores are shown in Figure 3. PULMICORT RESPULES at doses of 0.25 mg and 0.5 mg twice daily, and 1 mg once daily, demonstrated statistically significant decreases in nighttime asthma symptom scores compared to placebo. Similar decreases were also observed for daytime asthma symptom scores.
PULMICORT RESPULES (budesonide inhalation suspension) at a dose of 0.5 mg twice daily resulted in statistically significant increases compared to placebo in FEV1, and at doses of 0.25 mg and 0.5 mg twice daily and 1 mg once daily statistically significant increases in morning PEF.
The evidence supports the efficacy of the same nominal dose of PULMICORT RESPULES (budesonide inhalation suspension) administered on either a once-daily or twice-daily schedule. However, when all measures are considered together, the evidence is stronger for twice-daily dosing (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).
Figure 3: A 12-Week Trial in Pediatric Patients Either Maintained
on Bronchodilators Alone or Inhaled Corticosteroid Therapy Prior to Study Entry.
Nighttime Asthma Change from Baseline
Last reviewed on RxList: 7/29/2010
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
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