Asthma Home > What Is Metaproterenol Used For?

Some people may wonder, "What is metaproterenol used for?" Metaproterenol is used to treat bronchospasms in people who suffer from asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The medication works quickly to open up the airways to let more air into and through the lungs. There are currently no universally accepted off-label uses for the medication.

What Is Metaproterenol Used For?

Metaproterenol sulfate (Alupent®) is a prescription medication used to treat asthma and other similar lung problems. It is part of a class of asthma drugs known as beta-adrenergic receptor agonists, or beta agonists for short.
Metaproterenol is no longer available in the United States. The manufacturer of this medication decided to stop making it in order to comply with regulations concerning chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), chemicals that may deplete the ozone layer. The product was rarely used anymore; had it been more popular, the manufacturer probably would have chosen to reformulate it without CFCs, instead of just discontinuing it.
This article focuses on the metaproterenol inhaler. Metaproterenol also comes in tablets, syrup, and a solution that is inhaled using a machine called a nebulizer.

Metaproterenol for Bronchospasms Due to Asthma or COPD

Asthma is a chronic disease that affects your airways, which are the tubes that carry air into and out of your lungs. When you have asthma, the inside walls of your airways are inflamed (swollen). This inflammation makes the airways very sensitive, and they tend to react strongly to things that you are allergic to or find irritating. When the airways react, they narrow and constrict the airflow to your lungs. This is called a bronchospasm. It causes asthma symptoms like wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe), coughing, tightness in the chest, and trouble breathing.
While there is no asthma cure, asthma can be controlled. There are many different asthma treatments, and metaproterenol represents one of the most basic and most important types of treatment for asthma. Metaproterenol is a "rescue" asthma inhaler, which means that it can help improve breathing very quickly. Even if you take asthma controller medications, it is important to always have a rescue asthma medication available to relieve an attack.
Metaproterenol is approved to both treat and prevent asthma attacks. Because metaproterenol is short-acting, it is not necessarily the best asthma medication for preventing asthma attacks in general. However, it is a good medication for treating asthma attacks.
Asthma is not the only cause of bronchospasms. Metaproterenol can also treat bronchospasms due to other lung problems, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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