Xopenex® (levalbuterol hydrochloride) is a medication used to treat or prevent airway spasms (bronchospasms), which can occur in people who have asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This prescription medication can be taken in two ways -- in a Xopenex inhaler or in a nebulizer, a device that changes liquid medications into fine droplets that are inhaled into the lungs.
Xopenex is part of a class of drugs called beta-adrenergic receptor agonists, or beta agonists for short. Beta agonists stimulate beta receptors in the body, including those on the muscles around the airways. This stimulation causes the muscles to relax, which opens up the airways and allows more air to get into and through the lungs. Xopenex also has some effects on decreasing the activity of mast cells in the lungs, which play an important role in inflammation and allergic reactions.
In clinical studies, Xopenex started working within 10 to 17 minutes, and the effects lasted for five to six hours on average. In some people, the effects lasted as long as eight hours.
(Click Xopenex for a more in-depth look at how the Xopenex inhaler works, as well as detailed information on general precautions, dosages, and potential side effects.)