A review of nebulized drug delivery in COPD

Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis. 2016 Oct 18:11:2585-2596. doi: 10.2147/COPD.S114034. eCollection 2016.


Current guidelines recommend inhaled pharmacologic therapy as the preferred route of administration for treating COPD. Bronchodilators (β2-agonists and antimuscarinics) are the mainstay of pharmacologic therapy in patients with COPD, with long-acting agents recommended for patients with moderate to severe symptoms or those who are at a higher risk for COPD exacerbations. Dry powder inhalers and pressurized metered dose inhalers are the most commonly used drug delivery devices, but they may be inadequate in various clinical scenarios (eg, the elderly, the cognitively impaired, and hospitalized patients). As more drugs become available in solution formulations, patients with COPD and their caregivers are becoming increasingly satisfied with nebulized drug delivery, which provides benefits similar to drugs delivered by handheld inhalers in both symptom relief and improved quality of life. This article reviews recent innovations in nebulized drug delivery and the important role of nebulized therapy in the treatment of COPD.

Keywords: COPD; nebulized drug delivery; pharmacologic therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Adrenergic beta-2 Receptor Agonists / administration & dosage*
  • Bronchodilator Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Drug Delivery Systems / instrumentation*
  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Lung / drug effects*
  • Lung / physiopathology
  • Muscarinic Antagonists / administration & dosage*
  • Nebulizers and Vaporizers*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / diagnosis
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / drug therapy*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Adrenergic beta-2 Receptor Agonists
  • Bronchodilator Agents
  • Muscarinic Antagonists