Safety of over-the-counter inhalers for asthma: report of the council on scientific affairs

Chest. 2000 Aug;118(2):522-6. doi: 10.1378/chest.118.2.522.


The occasional use of over-the-counter (OTC) epinephrine inhalers appears to be safe and effective when used according to labeled instruction by individuals with mild, intermittent asthma. However, gross misuse of these products can cause severe adverse reactions, including death. Limited survey data suggest that approximately 20% of individuals using OTC epinephrine inhalers have mild-to-moderate persistent asthma. According to recent consensus guidelines, these individuals should be under a physician's care and receiving corticosteroid therapy. If these products continue to be marketed, labeling should be strengthened to better educate users about appropriate and inappropriate use of OTC epinephrine inhalers intended for patients with mild, intermittent asthma.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • American Medical Association
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Bronchodilator Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Device Approval / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Drug Labeling
  • Epinephrine / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Nebulizers and Vaporizers / standards*
  • Nonprescription Drugs / standards*
  • Safety
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration


  • Bronchodilator Agents
  • Nonprescription Drugs
  • Epinephrine