May 28, 2017
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(budesonide and formoterol fumarate dihydrate) Inhalation Aerosol



Long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonists (LABA), such as formoterol, one of the active ingredients in SYMBICORT, increase the risk of asthma-related death. Data from a large placebo-controlled U.S. study that compared the safety of another LABA (salmeterol) or placebo added to usual asthma therapy showed an increase in asthma-related deaths in patients receiving salmeterol. This finding with salmeterol is considered a class effect of the LABA, including formoterol. Currently available data are inadequate to determine whether concurrent use of inhaled corticosteroids or other long-term asthma control drugs mitigates the increased risk of asthma-related death from LABA. Available data from controlled clinical trials suggest that LABA increase the risk of asthma-related hospitalization in pediatric and adolescent patients. Therefore, when treating patients with asthma, SYMBICORT should only be used for patients not adequately controlled on a long-term asthma control medication, such as an inhaled corticosteroid or whose disease severity clearly warrants initiation of treatment with both an inhaled corticosteroid and LABA. Once asthma control is achieved and maintained, assess the patient at regular intervals and step down therapy (e.g., discontinue SYMBICORT) if possible without loss of asthma control and maintain the patient on a long-term asthma control medication, such as an inhaled corticosteroid. Do not use SYMBICORT for patients whose asthma is adequately controlled on low or medium dose inhaled corticosteroids [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].


SYMBICORT 80/4.5 and SYMBICORT 160/4.5 each contain micronized budesonide and micronized formoterol fumarate dihydrate for oral inhalation only.

Each SYMBICORT 80/4.5 and SYMBICORT 160/4.5 canister is formulated as a hydrofluoroalkane (HFA 227; 1,1,1,2,3,3,3-heptafluoropropane)-propelled pressurized metered dose inhaler containing either 60 or 120 actuations [see Dosage Forms and Strengths and HOW SUPPLIED/Storage and Handling]. After priming, each actuation meters either 91/5.1 mcg or 181/5.1 mcg from the valve and delivers either 80/4.5 mcg, or 160/4.5 mcg (budesonide micronized/formoterol fumarate dihydrate micronized) from the actuator. The actual amount of drug delivered to the lung may depend on patient factors, such as the coordination between actuation of the device and inspiration through the delivery system. SYMBICORT also contains povidone K25 USP as a suspending agent and polyethylene glycol 1000 NF as a lubricant.

SYMBICORT should be primed before using for the first time by releasing two test sprays into the air away from the face, shaking well for 5 seconds before each spray. In cases where the inhaler has not been used for more than 7 days or when it has been dropped, prime the inhaler again by shaking well for 5 seconds before each spray and releasing two test sprays into the air away from the face.

One active component of SYMBICORT is budesonide, a corticosteroid designated chemically as (RS)11β, 16α, 17,21-Tetrahydroxypregna-1,4-diene-3,20-dione cyclic 16,17-acetal with butyraldehyde. Budesonide is provided as a mixture of two epimers (22R and 22S). The empirical formula of budesonide is C25H34O6 and its molecular weight is 430.5. Its structural formula is:

Budesonide - Structural Formula Illustration

Budesonide is a white to off-white, tasteless, odorless powder which is practically insoluble in water and in heptane, sparingly soluble in ethanol, and freely soluble in chloroform. Its partition coefficient between octanol and water at pH 7.4 is 1.6 x 103.

The other active component of SYMBICORT is formoterol fumarate dihydrate, a selective beta2-agonist designated chemically as (R*,R*)-(±)-N-[2-hydroxy-5-[1-hydroxy-2-[[2-(4-methoxyphenyl)-1methylethyl]amino]ethyl]phenyl]formamide, (E)-2-butendioate(2:1), dihydrate. The empirical formula of formoterol is C42H56N4O14 and its molecular weight is 840.9. Its structural formula is:

Formoterol fumarate dihydrate - Structural Formula Illustration

Formoterol fumarate dihydrate is a powder which is slightly soluble in water. Its octanol-water partition coefficient at pH 7.4 is 2.6. The pKa of formoterol fumarate dihydrate at 25°C is 7.9 for the phenolic group and 9.2 for the amino group.

What are the possible side effects of budesonide and formoterol inhalation (Symbicort)?

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

  • worsening asthma symptoms;
  • chest pain, fast or pounding heartbeats, tremors, nervousness;
  • wheezing, throat irritation, choking, or other breathing problems after using this medication;
  • signs of infection such as fever, chills, sore throat, flu symptoms, easy bruising or bleeding, unusual...

Read All Potential Side Effects and See Pictures of Symbicort »

What are the precautions when taking budesonide and formoterol fumarate dihydrate (Symbicort)?

Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to budesonide or formoterol; or to arformoterol; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.

Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: current/past infections (such as tuberculosis, herpes), high blood pressure, heart disease (such as chest pain, heart attack, irregular heartbeat), overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), seizures, bone loss (osteoporosis), eye problems (such as cataracts, glaucoma), diabetes, liver disease, swelling of an artery (aneurysm), a certain tumor of the adrenal gland...

Read All Potential Precautions of Symbicort »

Last reviewed on RxList: 2/13/2017
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

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