Investigation of some commercially available spacer devices for the delivery of glucocorticoid steroids from a pMDI

Drug Dev Ind Pharm. 2001 May;27(5):401-12. doi: 10.1081/ddc-100104315.


Five commercially available spacers were investigated to determine their influence on the percentage of drug retained in the spacer device, percentage fine particle fraction (FPF), percentage deposited in the induction port, mass median aerodynamic diameter (MMAD), and geometric standard deviation (GSD). Betamethasone valerate (BMV) and triamcinolone acetonide (TAA) were used as model drugs in the pressurized metered dose inhaler (pMDI) formulations containing the propellant HFA 134a. The BMV was dissolved in an ethanol/HFA 134a system, and the TAA was suspended in HFA 134a using ethanol as a dispersing agent. The metering chamber volume of the valve was either 50 microl or 150 microl. The spacer devices investigated included the ACE, Aerochamber, Azmacort, Easivent, and Ellipse spacers. Each spacer device was attached to an Andersen Cascade Impactor powered by a vacuum pump. Cascade impaction data were used to derive the percentage drug deposited in the induction port, MMAD, GSD, and FPF. The BMV particles emitted from the spacers were finer than the TAA particles because the dissolved drug precipitated as the cosolvent evaporated. The TAA particles had significantly larger MMADs because many undissolved drug particles were contained within each droplet following actuation. After evaporation of the liquid continuous phase, the suspended drug aggregated to form larger agglomerates than those particles precipitated from the BMV pMDI solution droplets. The addition of a spacer device lowered the MMAD to less than 4.7 microm for particles from both the BMV pMDI solution and the TAA pMDI suspension. The addition of a spacer device also lowered the percentage drug deposited in the induction port. The FPF was significantly increased when a spacer device was used. The MMAD significantly decreased when a spacer device was added for the two model drugs when using the 150-microl metering valves, but the difference was not statistically significant when the 50-microl valves were used (P < .05). The GSD was not influenced by the use of a spacer device. The use of a spacer device will enhance pMDI therapy by reducing the amount of drug deposited in the oropharyngeal region, which will lead to fewer instances of local and systemic side effects. In addition, the spacer devices investigated will allow a higher dose of drug to reach the deep lung, which may permit the use of lower dosage regimens with increased therapeutic efficacy.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Aerosol Propellants
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Asthma / drug therapy
  • Betamethasone Valerate / administration & dosage*
  • Betamethasone Valerate / therapeutic use
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Delivery Systems*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Fluorinated
  • Nebulizers and Vaporizers*
  • Particle Size
  • Triamcinolone Acetonide / administration & dosage*
  • Triamcinolone Acetonide / therapeutic use


  • Aerosol Propellants
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Hydrocarbons, Fluorinated
  • Betamethasone Valerate
  • Triamcinolone Acetonide
  • apaflurane