Budesonide (Page 3 of 5)

8.6 Hepatic Impairment

Patients with moderate to severe liver disease should be monitored for increased signs and/or symptoms of hypercorticism. Discontinuing the use of budesonide extended-release tablets should be considered in these patients [see Warnings and Precautions (5.4)].


Reports of acute toxicity and/or death following overdosage of glucocorticosteroids are rare. Treatment consists of immediate gastric lavage or emesis followed by supportive and symptomatic therapy.

If glucocorticosteroids are used at excessive doses for prolonged periods, systemic glucocorticosteroid effects, such as hypercorticism and adrenal suppression may occur. For chronic overdosage in the face of severe disease requiring continuous steroid therapy, the dosage may be reduced temporarily.

Single oral budesonide doses of 200 and 400 mg/kg were lethal in female and male mice, respectively. The signs of acute toxicity were decreased motor activity, piloerection and generalized edema.


Budesonide extended-release tablets, for oral administration, contain budesonide USP, a synthetic corticosteroid, as the active ingredient. Budesonide, USP is designated chemically as (RS)-11β, 16α, 17, 21 tetrahydroxypregna-1,4-diene-3,20-dione cyclic 16,17-acetal with butyraldehyde.

Budesonide, USP is provided as a mixture of two epimers (22R and 22S). The empirical formula of budesonide, USP is C25 H34 O6 and its molecular weight is 430.54. Its structural formula is:

The structural formula for Budesonide
(click image for full-size original)

Budesonide, USP is a white to almost white, tasteless, odorless powder that is practically insoluble in water, sparingly soluble in alcohol, and freely soluble in chloroform.

Budesonide extended-release, a delayed and extended-release tablet, is coated with a polymer film, which breaks down at or above pH 7. The tablet core contains budesonide with polymers that provide for extended-release of budesonide.

Each tablet contains the following inactive ingredients: colloidal silicon dioxide, hydroxypropyl cellulose, hypromellose 2910, iron oxide black, lactose monohydrate, magnesium stearate, methacrylic acid copolymer types A and B, microcrystalline cellulose, polyethylene glycol 3350, polysorbate 80, propylene glycol, sodium starch glycolate Type A, soy lecithin powder, talc, titanium dioxide, and triethyl citrate.


12.1 Mechanism of Action

Budesonide has a high topical glucocorticosteroid (GCS) activity and substantial first-pass elimination. The formulation contains budesonide in an extended-release tablet core. The tablet core is enteric coated to protect dissolution in gastric juice which delays budesonide release until exposure to a pH greater than or equal to 7 in the small intestine. Upon disintegration of the coating, the core matrix provides extended-release of budesonide in a time dependent manner.

12.2 Pharmacodynamics

Budesonide has a high glucocorticoid effect and a weak mineralocorticoid effect, and the affinity of budesonide to GCS receptors, which reflects the intrinsic potency of the drug, is about 200-fold that of cortisol and 15-fold that of prednisolone.

Treatment with systemically active GCS, including budesonide extended-release tablets, is associated with a suppression of endogenous cortisol concentrations and an impairment of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis function. Markers, indirect and direct, of this are cortisol levels in plasma or urine and response to ACTH stimulation.

In a study assessing the response to ACTH stimulation test in patients treated with budesonide extended-release tablets 9 mg once daily, the proportion of patients with abnormal response was 47% at 4 weeks and 79% at 8 weeks.

12.3 Pharmacokinetics


Following single oral administration of budesonide extended-release tablets 9 mg in healthy subjects, peak plasma concentration (Cmax ) was 1.35 ± 0.96 ng/mL, the time to peak concentration (Tmax ) on average was 13.3 ± 5.9 hours, although it varied across different individual patients, and the area under the plasma concentration time curve (AUC) was approximately 16.43 ± 10.52 ng·hr/mL. The pharmacokinetic parameters of budesonide extended-release tablets 9 mg have a high degree of variability among subjects. There was no accumulation of budesonide with respect to both AUC and Cmax following 7 days of budesonide extended-release tablets 9 mg once daily dosing.

Food Effect

A food-effect study involving administration of budesonide extended-release tablets to healthy volunteers under fasting conditions and with a high-fat meal indicated that the Cmax was decreased by 27% while there was no significant decrease in AUC. Additionally, a mean delay in absorption lag time of 2.4 hours was observed under fed conditions.


The mean volume of distribution (VSS ) of budesonide varies between 2.2 and 3.9 L/kg in healthy subjects and in patients. Plasma protein binding is estimated to be 85 to 90% in the concentration range 1 to 230 nmol/L, independent of gender. The erythrocyte/plasma partition ratio at clinically relevant concentrations is about 0.8.



Following absorption, budesonide is subject to high first-pass metabolism (80 to 90%). In vitro experiments in human liver microsomes demonstrate that budesonide is rapidly and extensively biotransformed, mainly by CYP3A4, to its 2 major metabolites, 6β–hydroxy budesonide and 16α-hydroxy prednisolone. The glucocorticoid activity of these metabolites is negligible (less than 1/100) in relation to that of the parent compound.

In vivo investigations with intravenous doses in healthy subjects are in agreement with the in vitro findings and demonstrate that budesonide has a high plasma clearance, 0.9 to 1.8 L/min. These high plasma clearance values approach the estimated liver blood flow, and, accordingly, suggest that budesonide is a high hepatic clearance drug.

The plasma elimination half-life, t1/2 , after administration of intravenous doses ranges between 2 and 3.6 hours.


Budesonide is excreted in urine and feces in the form of metabolites. After oral as well as intravenous administration of micronized [3 H]-budesonide, approximately 60% of the recovered radioactivity is found in urine. The major metabolites, including 6β-hydroxy budesonide and 16α-hydroxy prednisolone, are mainly renally excreted, intact or in conjugated forms. No unchanged budesonide is detected in urine.

Specific Populations

Patients with Renal Impairment

The pharmacokinetics of budesonide in patients with renal impairment have not been studied. Intact budesonide is not renally excreted, but metabolites are to a large extent, and might therefore reach higher levels in patients with impaired renal function. However, these metabolites have negligible corticosteroid activity as compared with budesonide (less than 1/100).

Patients with Hepatic Impairment

In patients with liver cirrhosis, systemic availability of orally administered budesonide correlates with disease severity and is, on average, 2.5-fold higher compared with healthy controls. Patients with mild liver disease are minimally affected. Patients with severe liver dysfunction were not studied. Absorption parameters were not altered, and for the intravenous dose, no significant differences in CL or VSS were observed.

Drug Interaction Studies

Budesonide is metabolized via CYP3A4. Potent inhibitors of CYP3A4 can increase the plasma levels of budesonide several-fold. Coadministration of ketoconazole results in an eight-fold increase in AUC of budesonide, compared to budesonide alone. Grapefruit juice, an inhibitor of gut mucosal CYP3A, approximately doubles the systemic exposure of oral budesonide. Conversely, induction of CYP3A4 can result in the lowering of budesonide plasma levels [see Dosage and Administration (2) and Drug Interactions (7)].

Oral contraceptives containing ethinyl estradiol, which are also metabolized by CYP3A4, do not affect the pharmacokinetics of budesonide. Budesonide does not affect the plasma levels of oral contraceptives (i.e., ethinyl estradiol).


13.1 Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility


Carcinogenicity studies with budesonide were conducted in rats and mice. In a two-year study in Sprague-Dawley rats, budesonide caused a statistically significant increase in the incidence of gliomas in male rats at an oral dose of 50 mcg/kg (approximately 0.05 times the maximum recommended human dose on a body surface area basis). In addition, there were increased incidences of primary hepatocellular tumors in male rats at 25 mcg/kg (approximately 0.023 times the maximum recommended human dose on a body surface area basis) and above. No tumorigenicity was seen in female rats at oral doses up to 50 mcg/kg (approximately 0.05 times the maximum recommended human dose on a body surface area basis). In an additional two-year study in male Sprague-Dawley rats, budesonide caused no gliomas at an oral dose of 50 mcg/kg (approximately 0.05 times the maximum recommended human dose on a body surface area basis). However, it caused a statistically significant increase in the incidence of hepatocellular tumors at an oral dose of 50 mcg/kg (approximately 0.05 times the maximum recommended human dose on a body surface area basis). The concurrent reference glucocorticosteroids (prednisolone and triamcinolone acetonide) showed similar findings. In a 91-week study in mice, budesonide caused no treatment-related carcinogenicity at oral doses up to 200 mcg/kg (approximately 0.1 times the maximum recommended human dose on a body surface area basis).


Budesonide was not genotoxic in the Ames test, the mouse lymphoma cell forward gene mutation (TK+/-) test, the human lymphocyte chromosome aberration test, the Drosophila melanogaster sex-linked recessive lethality test, the rat hepatocyte unscheduled DNA synthesis (UDS) test and the mouse micronucleus test.

Impairment of Fertility

In rats, budesonide had no effect on fertility at subcutaneous doses up to 80 mcg/kg (approximately 0.07 times the maximum recommended human dose on a body surface area basis). However, it caused a decrease in prenatal viability and viability in pups at birth and during lactation, along with a decrease in maternal body weight gain, at subcutaneous doses of 20 mcg/kg (approximately 0.02 times the maximum recommended human dose on a body surface area basis) and above. No such effects were noted at 5 mcg/kg (approximately 0.005 times the maximum recommended human dose on a body surface area basis).

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