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Variability in delivered dose and respirable delivered dose from nebulizers: are current regulatory testing guidelines sufficient to produce meaningful information?

Authors Hatley RHM, Byrne SM

Received 19 October 2016

Accepted for publication 5 December 2016

Published 1 February 2017 Volume 2017:10 Pages 17—28


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Ross HM Hatley, Sarah M Byrne

Respironics Respiratory Drug Delivery (UK) Ltd, a business of Philips Electronics UK Limited, Chichester, UK

Background: To improve convenience to patients, there have been advances in the operation of nebulizers, resulting in fast treatment times and less drug lost to the environment. However, limited attention has been paid to the effects of these developments on the delivered dose (DD) and respirable delivered dose (RDD). Published pharmacopoeia and ISO testing guidelines for adult-use testing utilize a single breathing pattern, which may not be sufficient to enable effective comparisons between the devices.
Materials and methods: The DD of 5 mg of salbutamol sulfate into adult breathing patterns with inhalation:exhalation (I:E) ratios between 1:1 and 1:4 was determined. Droplet size was determined by laser diffraction and RDD calculated. Nine different nebulizer brands with different modes of operation (conventional, venturi, breath-enhanced, mesh, and breath-activated) were tested.
Results: Between the non-breath-activated nebulizers, a 2.5-fold difference in DD (~750–1,900 µg salbutamol) was found; with RDD, there was a more than fourfold difference (~210–980 µg). With increasing time spent on exhalation, there were progressive reductions in DD and RDD, with the RDD at an I:E ratio of 1:4 being as little as 40% of the dose with the 1:1 I:E ratio. The DD and RDD from the breath-activated mesh nebulizer were independent of the I:E ratio, and for the breath-activated jet nebulizer, there was less than 20% change in RDD between the I:E ratios of 1:1 and 1:4.
Conclusion: Comparing nebulizers using the I:E ratio recommended in the guidelines does not predict relative performance between the devices at other ratios. There was significant variance in DD or RDD between different brands of non-breath-activated nebulizer. In future, consideration should be given to revision of the test protocols included in the guidelines, to reflect more accurately the potential therapeutic dose that is delivered to a realistic spectrum of breathing patterns.

nebulizer, inhalation:exhalation (I:E) ratio, breathing pattern, delivered dose (DD), respirable delivered dose (RDD), testing guidelines

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