Technical report: precautions regarding the use of aerosolized antibiotics. Committee on Infectious Diseases and Committee on Drugs

Pediatrics. 2000 Dec;106(6):E89. doi: 10.1542/peds.106.6.e89.


In 1998, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the licensure of tobramycin solution for inhalation (TOBI). Although a number of additional antibiotics, including other aminoglycosides, beta-lactams, antibiotics in the polymyxin class, and vancomycin, have been administered as aerosols for many years, none are approved by the FDA for administration by inhalation. TOBI was approved by the FDA for the maintenance therapy of patients 6 years or older with cystic fibrosis (CF) who have between 25% and 75% of predicted forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV(1)), are colonized with Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and are able to comply with the prescribed medical regimen. TOBI was not approved for the therapy of acute pulmonary exacerbations in patients with CF nor was it approved for use in patients without CF. Currently, no other antibiotics are approved for administration by inhalation to patients with or without CF. The purpose of this statement is to briefly summarize the data that supported approval for licensure of TOBI and to provide recommendations for its safe use. The pharmacokinetics of inhaled aminoglycosides and problems associated with aerosolized antibiotic treatment, including environmental contamination, selection of resistant microbes, and airway exposure to excipients in intravenous formulations, will be discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Bronchoconstriction / drug effects
  • Child
  • Cystic Fibrosis / complications
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial
  • Environmental Pollution
  • Gentamicins / administration & dosage
  • Gentamicins / adverse effects
  • Gentamicins / pharmacokinetics
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Licensure / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Nebulizers and Vaporizers
  • Pseudomonas Infections / drug therapy*
  • Pseudomonas Infections / etiology
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / drug effects
  • Tobramycin / administration & dosage*
  • Tobramycin / adverse effects*
  • Tobramycin / pharmacokinetics
  • United States


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Gentamicins
  • Tobramycin