Pulmicort is a prescription medication used to prevent asthma attacks before they start, rather than treating them once they occur. By opening up the airways and allowing more air to get into and through the lungs, the medication can make it easier for people with asthma to breathe. Pulmicort is used once or twice a day every day. Possible side effects of the medicine include a sore throat, coughing, and viral infections.
What Is Pulmicort?
Pulmicort® (budesonide inhalation) is a prescription medication used to prevent asthma attacks. It comes in two forms -- the Pulmicort Flexhaler® (a special kind of inhaler) and Pulmicort Respules® that are inhaled using a nebulizer (a device that changes liquid medications into fine droplets that are inhaled into the lungs). The Pulmicort Flexhaler has replaced the Pulmicort Turbuhaler®, which is no longer manufactured.
(Click Pulmicort Uses for more information on what it is used for, including possible off-label uses of the medication.)
Who Makes Pulmicort?
It is made by AstraZeneca.
How Does It Work?
Normally, air moves easily into and out of the lungs through a network of airways. However, 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 (see Asthma Triggers). When the airways react, a few things happen -- the muscles around these airways tighten, inflammation inside the airways increases, and the cells inside the airways produce more mucus. This narrows the airways and makes it harder to breathe.
Pulmicort is an asthma medication that belongs to a group of drugs called inhaled corticosteroids, or steroids for short. Inhaled steroids go directly into the lungs and help to decrease the inflammation of airways that makes asthma attacks more likely. Because this medication does not work quickly, it should not be used for treating an asthma attack. Rather, it is used once or twice a day in order to prevent asthma attacks.
Because Pulmicort is inhaled directly into the lungs, the rest of the body is exposed to lower steroid levels, compared to steroids taken by mouth. This helps reduce or eliminate many of the side effects associated with long-term steroid use.
(Click Asthma Treatment for information about other medicines used for treating asthma.)
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Pulmicort Flexhaler [package insert]. Wilmington, DE: AstraZeneca;2006 July.
Pulmicort Respules [package insert]. Wilmington, DE: AstraZeneca;2007 January.
Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Electronic orange book: approved drug products with therapeutic equivalence evaluations. FDA Web site. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/cder/ob/. Accessed August 10, 2012.
Briggs GG, Freeman RK, Yaffe SJ. Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation. 7th ed. Philadelphia (PA): Lippincott Williams & Wilkins;2005.
National Library of Medicine (US). Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMED). NLM Web site. Available at: http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/htmlgen?LACT. Accessed April 13, 2007.
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Ltd. Teva announces agreement on generic Pulmicort Respules® patent challenge (11/25/2008). Teva Web site. Available at: http://www.tevapharm.com/pr/2008/pr_808.asp. Accessed December 5, 2008.
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