Aerospan (flunisolide)

Aerospan (flunisolide) is an inhaled corticosteroid. Aerospan is approved for the long-term treatment of asthma for people ages six and up.1 It is made by Meda Pharmaceuticals. Aerospan is taken via metered dose inhaler with a built-in spacer.

Do not take Aerospan if you are having an asthma attack. It does not work quickly enough. Use a rescue inhaler (short-acting beta agonist) instead.

How does Aerospan work?

Inhaled corticosteroids such as Aerospan reduce inflammation in the airways.1 Corticosteroids affect many different types of inflammatory cells, including eosinophils and mast cells. They also affect signaling chemicals that have a role in inflammation such as histamine, leukotrienes, and cytokines.

How is Aerospan taken?

Ask your health care provider or respiratory therapist to show you how to use your inhaler properly.

Aerospan is a metered dose inhaler with a built-in spacer. The purple part is called the actuator. The gray part is the spacer. Aerospan comes in one strength (80 mcg). Aerospan should be taken twice daily (Table).2 Your health care provider will tell you how many puffs to take.

Before using the inhaler for the first time, you have to prime it.2 First, open and position your inhaler (Steps 1-2 in the Table).2 Shake it for a few seconds. Point it away from your face. Press the canister down for one second, releasing a puff into the air. Repeat this one more time for a total of two test sprays. You have to prime it again if you have not used the inhaler for two weeks.

Table. Using your Aerospan metered dose inhaler

The steps for using your Aerospan metered dose inhaler are:

  1. Pull the purple actuator out from the gray spacer.
  2. Snap your inhaler into an L shape. The lines on the top and sides of the inhaler should match up, and there should be no opening at the top of the unit.
  3. Shake the inhaler.
  4. Breathe out normally.
  5. Put the mouthpiece in your mouth and close your lips around it.
  6. Begin to breathe in deeply and slowly through your mouth. Press the canister down for at least 1 second to release a “puff.” Continue to breathe in for 3 more seconds.
  7. After you have inhaled fully, take the inhaler out of your mouth. Keep your mouth closed and hold your breath for 10 seconds. Exhale.
  8. If you are taking 2 or more puffs, wait 20 seconds in between and then repeat steps 3 through 7.
  9. When you have taken all the puffs your health care provider recommended, snap the purple actuator back into the straight position and push it into the spacer.
  10. Rinse your mouth with water and spit out the water. Consider brushing your teeth. This step will help to prevent thrush, a fungal infection of the mouth.
Tips

  • Read the Patient Information that comes with your inhaler for complete instructions.
  • The inhaler is best used at room temperature.
  • Do not use this inhaler with any other spacer or valved holding chamber.

AerospanTM[patient information]. Marlborough, MA: Acton Pharmaceuticals; 2013.

What should I do if I miss a dose of Aerospan?

If you miss a dose of Aerospan, just take the next dose at the regular time.2

What are the recommendations for storing, cleaning, and discarding Aerospan?

Aerospan comes with a purple plastic actuator attached to a gray spacer.1 The medication comes in a separate metal canister. Do not take apart the actuator and spacer.2 Do not use the Aerospan inhaler with other medications, and do not use other inhalers with the Aerospan canister.

The Aerospan inhaler does not need to be cleaned. Throw away your inhaler and canister when you have used all the doses (either 60 or 120) in the canister.

Store your Aerospan inhaler at 77˚F. Avoid high heat or flames.

What are the possible side effects of taking Aerospan?

Taking Aerospan could cause your airways to tighten suddenly (“bronchospasm”).1 This side effect can happen right after using the inhaler. Take your rescue inhaler and call your health care provider.

Common side effects of Aerospan are sore throat, runny nose, cough, headache, hoarseness, and sinus inflammation.2

Inhaled corticosteroids, such as Aerospan, can cause thrush, a fungal infection in your mouth.2 You can help to prevent this by rinsing your mouth with water after using the inhaler and spitting out the water.

Corticosteroids can lower your immune system, so you are more likely to get an infection.2 Symptoms of an infection are fever, pain, aches, chills, fatigue, nausea, or vomiting. Avoid contact with people who have chickenpox, measles, or other contagious diseases. Tell your provider if you have not had or been vaccinated for chickenpox or measles. Let your provider know if you have any infections such as tuberculosis or herpes simplex of the eye.

Children who use corticosteroids may grow more slowly.2 Your child’s growth should be checked regularly.

Are there people who should not take Aerospan?

Do not take Aerospan if you are having an asthma attack.2 Aerospan does not work quickly enough. A rescue inhaler should be used instead.

Tell your health care provider if you have had problems with your eyes, immune system, or osteoporosis.2 Taking corticosteroids may worsen these conditions. Extra monitoring or an alternative treatment may be needed. Let your provider know if you are planning on having surgery.

Tell your health care provider about any prescription medications you are taking, particularly steroid medications you take by mouth.2 Also tell your provider about over-the-counter medications or supplements that you take.

Aerospan has not been well studied in pregnant or breastfeeding women.2 Little is known about whether this medication passes into breast milk. Talk to your doctor about if you become pregnant or wish to breastfeed while taking Aerospan.

What evidence do we have that Aerospan works?

Aerospan is a newer version of the flunisolide CFC (chlorofluorocarbon) inhaler. Flunisolide has been used safely and effectively since it was approved in 1981.1,3 However, CFCs are a gas that damages the ozone, and all CFC inhalers have been replaced. Aerospan is a re-packaged version of flunisolide with a new inhaler and a different gas.

Aerospan was compared with flunisolide CFC and a fake treatment (placebo) in a study with 669 people ages 12 and older.1 People treated with 160 mcg or 320 mcg doses of Aerospan had better lung function than the people who got placebo. They also had fewer symptoms and nighttime awakenings due to asthma symptoms, and they needed less rescue medication. Children ages six to 11 treated with 80 mcg or 160 mcg doses of Aerospan also had better lung function than the children who got placebo. In all age groups, Aerospan and flunisolide CFC were equally effective.

Is there a generic alternative to Aerospan?

There is no generic alternative to Aerospan.

Written by: Sarah O'Brien | Last Reviewed: May 2016.
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