Efficacy and safety of eco-friendly inhalers: focus on combination ipratropium bromide and albuterol in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis. 2013:8:221-30. doi: 10.2147/COPD.S31246. Epub 2013 Apr 30.


Background: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality and its treatment is critical to improve quality of life, reduce symptoms, and diminish the frequency of COPD exacerbations. Due to the harmful environmental effects of pressurized metered-dose inhalers (pMDIs) containing chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), newer systems for delivering respiratory medications have been developed.

Methods: A search of the literature in the PubMed database was undertaken using the keywords "COPD," "albuterol," "ipratropium bromide," and "Respimat® Soft Mist Inhaler™"; pertinent references within the identified citations were included. The environmental effect of CFC-pMDIs, the invention of the Respimat® Soft Mist Inhaler™ (SMI) (Boehringer Ingelheim, Ingelheim, Germany), and its use to deliver the combination of albuterol and ipratropium bromide for the treatment of COPD were reviewed.

Results: The adverse environmental effects of CFC-pMDIs stimulated the invention of novel delivery systems including the Respimat SMI. This review presents its development, internal mechanism, and use to deliver the combination of albuterol and ipratropium bromide.

Conclusion: CFC-pMDIs contributed to the depletion of the ozone layer and the surge in disorders caused by harmful ultraviolet B radiation. The banning of CFCs spurred the development of novel delivery systems for respiratory medications. The Respimat SMI is an innovative device that produces a vapor of inhalable droplets with reduced velocity and prolonged aerosol duration that enhance deposition within the lower airway and is associated with improved patient satisfaction. Clinical trials have demonstrated that the Respimat SMI can achieve effects equivalent to pMDIs but with lower medication doses. The long-term safety and efficacy remain to be determined. The Respimat SMI delivery device is a novel, efficient, and well-received system for the delivery of aerosolized albuterol and ipratropium bromide to patients with COPD; however, the presence of longer-acting, less frequently dosed respiratory medications provide patients and providers with other therapeutic options.

Keywords: COPD; Respimat® Soft Mist Inhaler™; chlorofluorocarbons; pressurized metered-dose inhaler.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Albuterol* / chemistry
  • Albuterol* / therapeutic use
  • Bronchodilator Agents / chemistry
  • Bronchodilator Agents / therapeutic use
  • Chlorofluorocarbons / adverse effects*
  • Drug Combinations
  • Equipment Design / trends
  • Humans
  • Ipratropium* / chemistry
  • Ipratropium* / therapeutic use
  • Metered Dose Inhalers / standards*
  • Ozone Depletion / prevention & control*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / drug therapy
  • Respiratory Therapy / instrumentation*
  • Respiratory Therapy / methods
  • Respiratory Therapy / trends
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Bronchodilator Agents
  • Chlorofluorocarbons
  • Drug Combinations
  • Ipratropium
  • Albuterol