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Brovana Medication Overview

written by: Robyn Broyles•edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski•updated: 4/29/2009

Brovana is an inhaled medication used to treat chronic lung disease. Misusing Brovana is dangerous — so find out how to use Brovana safely and effectively.

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    Brovana Overview

    Brovana is the tradename of a drug manufactured by Sepracor for the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), i.e., chronic bronchitis and emphysema. The generic name of Brovana is arformoterol, in the form of arformoterol tartrate. It is a form of the drug formoterol and is a long-acting selective beta2-adrenergic bronchodilator. In other words, it selectively acts on certain adrenalin receptors, called beta2 receptors, in the lungs, causing the small airways to open up.

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    How to Use Brovana

    Brovana is considered a long-term maintenance treatment for COPD. It is not meant to rescue a patient with a breathing emergency, but rather to improve lung function over time.

    Brovana should be inhaled orally twice a day using a nebulizer, a device that converts the liquid medication into a fine mist. When Brovana is self-administered, it is critical to use the nebulizer correctly, so make sure you completely understand the instructions provided by your healthcare provider or pharmacist. It does not need to be diluted before use; each vial of medication comes ready to use in the nebulizer. To make the best use of this drug, inhale the medication on the second half of the inward breath; this technique brings the medication more deeply into the lungs.

    Brovana should be stored in the refrigerator, and the packets should not be opened until just prior to use. Brovana can also be stored at room temperature, but it will last no more than 6 weeks if stored this way.

    Overdosing on Brovana can be fatal. A patient should never take more than the recommended dose.

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    Brovana Warnings

    A related drug, salmeterol, has been associated with an increased risk of asthma-related death. This finding has caused the U.S. FDA to issue a so-called "black box warning" to make the public aware that there may be an increased risk of asthma-related death for patients using Brovana. The risk has neither been proven nor disproven, but is likely because Brovana is very similar to salmeterol. However, this association is specific to patients with asthma, not with COPD.

    The various forms of formoterol, including arformoterol tartrate (Brovana), have possible dangerous side effects. These side effects include chest pain, dizziness, heart palpitations or rapid heartbeat (tachycardia), difficulty breathing, and swelling in the throat. Patients experiencing these symptoms should call their doctors immediately, or if they are in severe distress, they should call 911.

    Serious heart problems are possible with Brovana, and these effects are more likely when the drug is combined with certain other medications; see "Brovana Medication Interactions" below.

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    Brovana Medication Interactions

    The effects of Brovana can be increased by certain antidepressants (MAOIs and tricyclics), certain antihistamines, thyroid drugs, and other bronchodilators. The effects can be decreased by beta blockers. Brovana can also cause blood-pressure lowering drugs to be less effective.

    The most dangerous drugs to use together with Brovana are antihistamines, tricyclic antidepressants, theophylline, phenothiazines, procainamide, and quinidine. Using these drugs in combination can cause heart damage and heart arrhythmias (which can lead to sudden death). Many of these drugs, such as theophylline and antihistamines, are used to treat breathing problems and may inadvertently be prescribed together. Make sure your doctor and pharmacist know all the medications you take if Brovana is prescribed to you.

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    • BROVANA Drug Information (PDF) from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.
    • "Formoterol." The Pill Book, 12th Edition, 2006. Harold M. Silverman, Pharm. D., Editor-in-Chief. New York: Bantam Books.