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Alupent® (metaproterenol sulfate)

Alupent® is a drug that helps relax the muscles in the airways of the lungs to improve breathing. It is in a class of drugs called sympathomimetic amines. They are prescribed to manage respiratory conditions related to bronchial asthma, such as wheezing, shortness of breath, and tightness of chest.1-3

It is an inhaled bronchodilator. Alupent is used to treat bronchial asthma and reversible bronchospasms which may occur with bronchitis and emphysema. Metaproterenol sulfate is made by 3M Pharmaceuticals and distributed by Boehringer Ingelheim International.1-3

How does Alupent work?

Alupent affects the beta-2 adrenergic receptor cells on smooth muscle in the small tubes inside the lungs. It causes the smooth muscle to relax. By relaxing airway muscles, it helps increase the flow of air through the bronchial tubes of the lungs.1,2 This reduces symptoms such as wheezing and shortness of breath.1,2

Pulmonary function tests usually improve for 1 to 5 hours after use of the inhaler.1

What is the active ingredient in Alupent?

The active ingredient in Alupent is metaproterenol sulfate USP.1-3

What are some of the possible side effects of Alupent?

The most common side effects of Alupent include:1-3

  • Nervousness
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Palpitations
  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Tremor
  • Throat irritation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Cough
  • Asthma exacerbation

Alupent can cause rare but serious side effects, including:1,2

  • Significant cardiovascular effects such as changes in pulse or blood pressure
  • Unexpected constriction of walls of the bronchi which can be life-threatening
  • Overdose, or in rare cases, death

Things to know about Alupent

Before starting Alupent, you should talk to your doctor about all drugs (prescription and over the counter), supplements, and vitamins you are taking. Some drugs or supplements may interfere with each other. This means both drugs may work less well, or you may have serious side effects. In particular, metaproterenol sulfate may interact with:1,2

  • Other asthma drugs
  • Some other bronchodilators
  • Certain antidepressants
  • Drugs used for heart conditions or high blood pressure
  • Before starting treatment with metaproterenol sulfate, discuss all of your health conditions with your doctor, especially:1,2
  • Tachycardia
  • Other heart conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure or heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmias)
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Diabetes
  • Hypersensitivity to other bronchodilators or metaproterenol sulfate or any of its ingredients
  • Convulsive disorders

Metaproterenol sulfate is not recommended for children under 12. It should be used during pregnancy and breastfeeding only if the potential benefit justifies any potential risks to the baby.1,2

Dosing information

Metaproterenol sulfate is delivered by a metered dose inhaler. Each metered dose contains 0.65 mg metaproterenol sulfate which is delivered through a mouthpiece.1,2

Containers of metaproterenol sulfate come in 2 sizes. They hold enough medication for at least 100 or 200 inhalations. A single dose is generally 1 to 3 inhalations. It can be taken if needed every 3 to 4 hours. The total dosage should not exceed 12 inhalations in any day.1-3 Your healthcare provider or respiratory therapist can show you how to use an inhaler properly.1,2

Each person may need a different size dose (number of inhalations). Be sure to talk to your doctor if you have any questions about your drugs or your inhalation regimen.1-3

View full prescribing information.1

  1. Alupent. Available at Accessed 2/9/20.
  2. Alupent. Rx List. Available at Accessed 2/9/20.
  3. Metaproterenol Inhaler – oral, Alupent. MedicineNet. Available at Accessed 2/9/20.