Budesonide Inhalation Suspension (Page 4 of 7)


The potential for acute toxic effects following overdose of budesonide inhalation suspension is low. If inhaled corticosteroids are used at excessive doses for prolonged periods, systemic corticosteroid effects such as hypercorticism or growth suppression may occur [see Warnings and Precautions (5.6)].


Budesonide, the active component of budesonide inhalation suspension, is 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 C H O and its molecular weight is 430.5. Its structural formula is:

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Budesonide is white to off-white, tasteless, odorless powder that 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 10 3.

Budesonide inhalation suspension is a sterile suspension for inhalation via jet nebulizer and contains the active ingredient budesonide (micronized), and the inactive ingredients anhydrous citric acid, disodium edetate dihydrate, polysorbate 80, sodium chloride, sodium citrate anhydrous and water for injection. It is available in single-dose ampules: 0.5 mg per 2 mL ampule. For budesonide inhalation suspension, like all other nebulized treatments, the amount delivered to the lungs will depend on patient factors, the jet nebulizer utilized, and compressor performance. Using the Pari-LC-Jet Plus Nebulizer/Pari Master compressor system, under in vitro conditions, the mean delivered dose at the mouthpiece (% nominal dose) was approximately 17% at a mean flow rate of 5.5 L/min. The mean nebulization time was 5 minutes or less. Budesonide inhalation suspension should be administered from jet nebulizers at adequate flow rates, via face masks or mouthpieces [see Dosage and Administration (2)].


12.1 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 budesonide inhalation suspension 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 anti-inflammatory effect, extensive first pass hepatic degradation of orally absorbed drug (85 to 95%) and the low potency of metabolites (see below).

12.2 Pharmacodynamics

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 budesonide inhalation suspension can occur within 2 to 8 days of beginning treatment, although maximum benefit may not be achieved for 4 to 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 FEV 1 following inhaled allergen challenge.

HPA Axis Effects

The effects of 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 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 budesonide inhalation suspension 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 budesonide inhalation suspension or placebo once daily. A total of 28, 17, and 31 patients in the 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 budesonide inhalation suspension versus placebo. However, 7 patients in this study (4 of whom received budesonide inhalation suspension 0.5 mg, 2 of whom received 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 budesonide inhalation suspension, the cortisol values were near the cutoff value of 500 nmol/L.

The effects of 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 budesonide inhalation suspension (1 and 2 mg twice daily) showed statistically significantly reduced (43 to 52%) urinary cortisol excretion compared to the run-in period. The highest recommended dose of budesonide inhalation suspension, 1 mg total daily dose, did not show statistically significantly reduced urinary cortisol excretion compared to the run-in period.

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 (5.5)].

12.3 Pharmacokinetics

In asthmatic children 4 to 6 years of age, the total absolute bioavailability (i.e., lung + oral) following administration of 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 C max , is similar for young children and adults after inhalation of the same dose of budesonide inhalation suspension.


In asthmatic children 4 to 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 to 90% bound to plasma proteins, the degree of binding being constant over the concentration range (1 to 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.

Excretion/ Elimination:

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 to 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.

Special Populations:

No differences in pharmacokinetics due to race, gender, or age have been identified.

Hepatic Insufficiency:

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.

Nursing Mothers:

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 (8.3)].

Drug-Drug Interactions

Inhibitors of cytochrome P450 enzymes:


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 (5.12), Drug Interactions (7.1)].

Cimetidine: At recommended doses, cimetidine, a non- specific inhibitor of CYP enzymes, had a slight but clinically insignificant effect on the pharmacokinetics of oral budesonide.

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