Current therapies and technological advances in aqueous aerosol drug delivery

Drug Dev Ind Pharm. 2008 Sep;34(9):913-22. doi: 10.1080/03639040802144211.


Recent advances in aerosolization technology have led to renewed interest in pulmonary delivery of a variety of drugs. Pressurized metered dose inhalers (pMDIs) and dry powder inhalers (DPIs) have experienced success in recent years; however, many limitations are presented by formulation difficulties, inefficient delivery, and complex device designs. Simplification of the formulation process as well as adaptability of new devices has led many in the pharmaceutical industry to reconsider aerosolization in an aqueous carrier. In the acute care setting, breath-enhanced air-jet nebulizers are controlling and minimizing the amount of wasted medication, while producing a high percentage of respirable droplets. Vibrating mesh nebulizers offer advantages in higher respirable fractions (RFs) and slower velocity aerosols when compared with air-jet nebulizers. Vibrating mesh nebulizers incorporating formulation and patient adaptive components provide improvements to continuous nebulization technology by generating aerosol only when it is most likely to reach the deep lung. Novel innovations in generation of liquid aerosols are now being adapted for propellant-free pulmonary drug delivery to achieve unprecedented control over dose delivered and are leading the way for the adaptation of systemic drugs for delivery via the pulmonary route. Devices designed for the metered dose delivery of insulin, morphine, sildenafil, triptans, and various peptides are all currently under investigation for pulmonary delivery to treat nonrespiratory diseases. Although these devices are currently still in clinical testing (with the exception of the Respimat), metered dose liquid inhalers (MDLIs) have already shown superior outcomes to current pulmonary and systemic delivery methods.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Aerosols
  • Nebulizers and Vaporizers*
  • Technology, Pharmaceutical*


  • Aerosols