July 28, 2016
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Mechanism Of Action

Tiotropium is a long-acting, antimuscarinic agent, which is often referred to as an anticholinergic. It has similar affinity to the subtypes of muscarinic receptors, M1 to M5. In the airways, it exhibits pharmacological effects through inhibition of M3-receptors at the smooth muscle leading to bronchodilation. The competitive and reversible nature of antagonism was shown with human and animal origin receptors and isolated organ preparations. In preclinical in vitro as well as in vivo studies, prevention of methacholine-induced bronchoconstriction effects was dose-dependent and lasted longer than 24 hours. The bronchodilation following inhalation of tiotropium is predominantly a site-specific effect.


Cardiac Electrophysiology

In a multicenter, randomized, double-blind trial using tiotropium dry powder for inhalation that enrolled 198 patients with COPD, the number of subjects with changes from baseline-corrected QT interval of 30 to 60 msec was higher in the SPIRIVA HANDIHALER group as compared with placebo. This difference was apparent using both the Bazett (QTcB) [20 (20%) patients vs. 12 (12%) patients] and Fredericia (QTcF) [16 (16%) patients vs. 1 (1%) patient] corrections of QT for heart rate. No patients in either group had either QTcB or QTcF of > 500 msec. Other clinical studies with SPIRIVA HANDIHALER did not detect an effect of the drug on QTc intervals.

The effect of tiotropium dry powder for inhalation on QT interval was also evaluated in a randomized, placebo- and positive-controlled crossover study in 53 healthy volunteers. Subjects received tiotropium dry powder for inhalation 18 mcg, 54 mcg (3 times the recommended dose), or placebo for 12 days. ECG assessments were performed at baseline and throughout the dosing interval following the first and last dose of study medication. Relative to placebo, the maximum mean change from baseline in study-specific QTc interval was 3.2 msec and 0.8 msec for tiotropium dry powder for inhalation 18 mcg and 54 mcg, respectively. No subject showed a new onset of QTc > 500 msec or QTc changes from baseline of ≥ 60 msec.


Tiotropium is administered by dry powder inhalation. Some of the pharmacokinetic data described below were obtained with higher doses than recommended for therapy. A dedicated pharmacokinetic study in patients with COPD evaluating once-daily tiotropium delivered from the RESPIMAT inhaler (5 mcg) and as inhalation powder (18 mcg) from the HANDIHALER device resulted in a similar systemic exposure between the two products.


Following dry powder inhalation by young healthy volunteers, the absolute bioavailability of 19.5% suggests that the fraction reaching the lung is highly bioavailable. Oral solutions of tiotropium have an absolute bioavailability of 2-3%. Food is not expected to influence the absorption of tiotropium. Maximum tiotropium plasma concentrations were observed 7 minutes after inhalation.


Tiotropium is 72% bound to plasma protein and had a volume of distribution of 32 L/kg after intravenous administration to young healthy volunteers. Local concentrations in the lung are not known, but the mode of administration suggests substantially higher concentrations in the lung. Studies in rats have shown that tiotropium does not readily penetrate the blood-brain barrier.


The terminal half-life of tiotropium in COPD patients following once daily inhalation of 5 mcg tiotropium was approximately 25 hours. Total clearance was 880 mL/min after intravenous administration in young healthy volunteers. After chronic once-daily dry powder inhalation by COPD patients, pharmacokinetic steady state was reached by day 7 with no accumulation thereafter.


The extent of metabolism is small. This is evident from a urinary excretion of 74% of unchanged substance after an intravenous dose to young healthy volunteers. Tiotropium, an ester, is nonenzymatically cleaved to the alcohol N-methylscopine and dithienylglycolic acid, neither of which binds to muscarinic receptors.

In vitro experiments with human liver microsomes and human hepatocytes suggest that a fraction of the administered dose (74% of an intravenous dose is excreted unchanged in the urine, leaving 25% for metabolism) is metabolized by cytochrome P450-dependent oxidation and subsequent glutathione conjugation to a variety of Phase II metabolites. This enzymatic pathway can be inhibited by CYP450 2D6 and 3A4 inhibitors, such as quinidine, ketoconazole, and gestodene. Thus, CYP450 2D6 and 3A4 are involved in the metabolic pathway that is responsible for the elimination of a small part of the administered dose. In vitro studies using human liver microsomes showed that tiotropium in supra-therapeutic concentrations did not inhibit CYP450 1A1, 1A2, 2B6, 2C9, 2C19, 2D6, 2E1, or 3A4.


Intravenously administered tiotropium bromide is mainly excreted unchanged in urine (74%). After dry powder inhalation to COPD patients at steady state, urinary excretion was 7% (1.3 μg) of the unchanged dose over 24 hours. The renal clearance of tiotropium exceeds the creatinine clearance, indicating secretion into the urine.

Specific Populations

Geriatric Patients

As expected for all predominantly renally excreted drugs, advancing age was associated with a decrease of tiotropium renal clearance (365 mL/min in COPD patients < 65 years to 271 mL/min in COPD patients ≥ 65 years). This did not result in a corresponding increase in AUC0-6,ss and Cmax,ss values following administration via HANDIHALER device.

Renal Impairment

Following 4-week SPIRIVA HANDIHALER or SPIRIVA RESPIMAT once daily dosing in patients with COPD, mild renal impairment (creatinine clearance 60-90 mL/min) resulted in 6-23% higher AUC0-6,ss and 6-17% higher Cmax,ss values; moderate renal impairment (creatinine clearance 30-60 mL/min) resulted in 54-57% higher AUC0-6,ss and 15-31% higher Cmax,ss values compared to COPD patients with normal renal function (creatinine clearance > 90 mL/min). There is insufficient data for tiotropium exposure in patients with severe renal impairment (creatinine clearance < 30 mL/min) following inhalation of SPIRIVA HANDIHALER or SPIRIVA RESPIMAT. However AUC0-4 and Cmax were 94% and 52% higher, respectively, in patients with severe renal impairment following intravenous infusion of tiotropium bromide.

Hepatic Impairment

The effects of hepatic impairment on the pharmacokinetics of tiotropium were not studied.

Drug Interactions

An interaction study with tiotropium (14.4 mcg intravenous infusion over 15 minutes) and cimetidine 400 mg three times daily or ranitidine 300 mg once daily was conducted. Concomitant administration of cimetidine with tiotropium resulted in a 20% increase in the AUC0-4h, a 28% decrease in the renal clearance of tiotropium and no significant change in the Cmax and amount excreted in urine over 96 hours. Co-administration of tiotropium with ranitidine did not affect the pharmacokinetics of tiotropium.

Common concomitant medications (long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonists (LABA), inhaled corticosteroids (ICS)) used by patients with COPD were not found to alter the exposure to tiotropium.

Clinical Studies

The SPIRIVA HANDIHALER (tiotropium bromide inhalation powder) clinical development program consisted of six Phase 3 studies in 2663 patients with COPD (1308 receiving SPIRIVA HANDIHALER): two 1-year, placebo-controlled studies, two 6-month, placebo-controlled studies and two 1-year, ipratropium-controlled studies. These studies enrolled patients who had a clinical diagnosis of COPD, were 40 years of age or older, had a history of smoking greater than 10 pack-years, had a forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) less than or equal to 60% or 65% of predicted, and a ratio of FEV1/FVC of less than or equal to 0.7.

In these studies, SPIRIVA HANDIHALER, administered once-daily in the morning, provided improvement in lung function (FEV1), with peak effect occurring within 3 hours following the first dose.

Two additional trials evaluated exacerbations: a 6-month, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter clinical trial of 1829 COPD patients in a US Veterans Affairs setting and a 4-year, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter, clinical trial of 5992 COPD patients. Long-term effects on lung function and other outcomes, were also evaluated in the 4-year multicenter trial.

6-Month to 1-Year Effects on Lung Function

In the 1-year, placebo-controlled trials, the mean improvement in FEV1 at 30 minutes was 0.13 liters (13%) with a peak improvement of 0.24 liters (24%) relative to baseline after the first dose (Day 1). Further improvements in FEV1 and forced vital capacity (FVC) were observed with pharmacodynamic steady state reached by Day 8 with once-daily treatment. The mean peak improvement in FEV1, relative to baseline, was 0.28 to 0.31 liters (28% to 31%), after 1 week (Day 8) of once-daily treatment. Improvement of lung function was maintained for 24 hours after a single dose and consistently maintained over the 1-year treatment period with no evidence of tolerance.

In the two 6-month, placebo-controlled trials, serial spirometric evaluations were performed throughout daytime hours in Trial A (12 hours) and limited to 3 hours in Trial B. The serial FEV1 values over 12 hours (Trial A) are displayed in Figure 1. These trials further support the improvement in pulmonary function (FEV1) with SPIRIVA HANDIHALER, which persisted over the spirometric observational period. Effectiveness was maintained for 24 hours after administration over the 6-month treatment period.

Figure 1 : Mean FEV1 Over Time (prior to and after administration of study drug) on Days 1 and 169 for Trial A (a Six-Month Placebo-Controlled Study)*

Mean FEV1 Over Time - Illustration

*Means adjusted for center, treatment, and baseline effect. On Day 169, a total of 183 and 149 patients in the SPIRIVA HANDIHALER and placebo groups, respectively, completed the trial. The data for the remaining patients were imputed using the last observation or least favorable observation carried forward.

Results of each of the 1-year ipratropium-controlled trials were similar to the results of the 1-year placebo-controlled trials. The results of one of these trials are shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2 : Mean FEV1 Over Time (0 to 6 hours post-dose) on Days 1 and 92, Respectively for One of the Two Ipratropium-Controlled Studies*

Mean FEV1 Over Time - Illustration

*Means adjusted for center, treatment, and baseline effect. On Day 92 (primary endpoint), a total of 151 and 69 patients in the SPIRIVA HANDIHALER and ipratropium groups, respectively, completed through 3 months of observation. The data for the remaining patients were imputed using the last observation or least favorable observation carried forward.

A randomized, placebo-controlled clinical study in 105 patients with COPD demonstrated that bronchodilation was maintained throughout the 24-hour dosing interval in comparison to placebo, regardless of whether SPIRIVA HANDIHALER was administered in the morning or in the evening.

Throughout each week of the 1-year treatment period in the two placebo-controlled trials, patients taking SPIRIVA HANDIHALER had a reduced requirement for the use of rescue short-acting beta2-agonists. Reduction in the use of rescue short-acting beta2-agonists, as compared to placebo, was demonstrated in one of the two 6- month studies.

4-Year Effects on Lung Function

A 4-year, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter clinical trial involving 5992 COPD patients was conducted to evaluate the long-term effects of SPIRIVA HANDIHALER on disease progression (rate of decline in FEV1). Patients were permitted to use all respiratory medications (including short-acting and longacting beta-agonists, inhaled and systemic steroids, and theophyllines) other than inhaled anticholinergics. The patients were 40 to 88 years of age, 75% male, and 90% Caucasian with a diagnosis of COPD and a mean pre-bronchodilator FEV1 of 39% predicted (range = 9% to 76%) at study entry. There was no difference between the groups in either of the co-primary efficacy endpoints, yearly rate of decline in pre- and post-bronchodilator FEV1, as demonstrated by similar slopes of FEV1 decline over time (Figure 3).

SPIRIVA HANDIHALER maintained improvements in trough (pre-dose) FEV1 (adjusted means over time: 87 to 103 mL) throughout the 4 years of the study (Figure 3).

Figure 3 : Trough (pre-dose) FEV1 Mean Values at Each Time Point

Trough (pre-dose) FEV1 Mean Values at Each Time Point - Illustration

Repeated measure ANOVA was used to estimate means. Means are adjusted for baseline measurements. Baseline trough FEV1 (observed mean) = 1.12. Patients with ≥ 3 acceptable pulmonary function tests after Day 30 and non-missing baseline value were included in the analysis.


The effect of SPIRIVA HANDIHALER on COPD exacerbations was evaluated in two clinical trials: a 4-year clinical trial described above and a 6-month clinical trial of 1829 COPD patients in a Veterans Affairs setting. In the 6-month trial, COPD exacerbations were defined as a complex of respiratory symptoms (increase or new onset) of more than one of the following: cough, sputum, wheezing, dyspnea, or chest tightness with a duration of at least 3 days requiring treatment with antibiotics, systemic steroids, or hospitalization. The population had an age ranging from 40 to 90 years with 99% males, 91% Caucasian, and had COPD with a mean prebronchodilator FEV1 percent predicted of 36% (range = 8% to 93%). Patients were permitted to use respiratory medications (including short-acting and long-acting beta-agonists, inhaled and systemic steroids, and theophyllines) other than inhaled anticholinergics. In the 6-month trial, the co-primary endpoints were the proportion of patients with COPD exacerbation and the proportion of patients with hospitalization due to COPD exacerbation. SPIRIVA HANDIHALER significantly reduced the proportion of COPD patients who experienced exacerbations compared to placebo (27.9% vs. 32.3%, respectively; Odds Ratio (OR) (tiotropium/placebo) = 0.81; 95% CI = 0.66, 0.99; p = 0.037). The proportion of patients with hospitalization due to COPD exacerbations in patients who used SPIRIVA HANDIHALER compared to placebo was 7.0% vs. 9.5%, respectively; OR = 0.72; 95% CI = 0.51, 1.01; p = 0.056.

Exacerbations were evaluated as a secondary outcome in the 4-year multicenter trial. In this trial, COPD exacerbations were defined as an increase or new onset of more than one of the following respiratory symptoms (cough, sputum, sputum purulence, wheezing, dyspnea) with a duration of three or more days requiring treatment with antibiotics and/or systemic (oral, intramuscular, or intravenous) steroids. SPIRIVA HANDIHALER significantly reduced the risk of an exacerbation by 14% (Hazard Ratio (HR) = 0.86; 95% CI = 0.81, 0.91; p < 0.001) and reduced the risk of exacerbation-related hospitalization by 14% (HR = 0.86; 95% CI = 0.78, 0.95; p < 0.002) compared to placebo. The median time to first exacerbation was delayed from 12.5 months (95% CI = 11.5, 13.8) in the placebo group to 16.7 months (95% CI = 14.9, 17.9) in the SPIRIVA HANDIHALER group.

All-Cause Mortality

In the 4-year placebo-controlled lung-function trial described above, all-cause mortality compared to placebo was assessed. There were no significant differences in allcause mortality rates between SPIRIVA HANDIHALER and placebo.

The all-cause mortality of SPIRIVA HANDIHALER was also compared to tiotropium inhalation spray 5 mcg (SPIRIVA RESPIMAT 5 mcg) in an additional longterm, randomized, double-blind, double-dummy active-controlled study with an observation period up to 3 years. All-cause mortality was similar between SPIRIVA HANDIHALER and SPIRIVA RESPIMAT.

Last reviewed on RxList: 1/27/2016
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

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