History of Aerosol Therapy: Liquid Nebulization to MDIs to DPIs

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Inhaled therapies have been used since ancient times and may have had their origins with the smoking of datura preparations in India 4,000 years ago. In the late 18th and in the 19th century, earthenware inhalers were popular for the inhalation of air drawn through infusions of plants and other ingredients. Atomizers and nebulizers were developed in the mid-1800s in France and were thought to be an outgrowth of the perfume industry as well as a response to the fashion of inhaling thermal waters at spas. Around the turn of the 20th century, combustible powders and cigarettes containing stramonium were popular for asthma and other lung complaints. Following the discovery of the utility of epinephrine for treating asthma, hand-bulb nebulizers were developed, as well as early compressor nebulizers. The marketing of the first pressurized metered-dose inhaler for epinephrine and isoproterenol, by Riker Laboratories in 1956, was a milestone in the development of inhaled drugs. There have been remarkable advances in the technology of devices and formulations for inhaled drugs in the past 50 years. These have been influenced greatly by scientific developments in several areas: theoretical modeling and indirect measures of lung deposition, particle sizing techniques and in vitro deposition studies, scintigraphic deposition studies, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, and the 1987 Montreal Protocol, which banned chlorofluorocarbon propellants. We are now in an era of rapid technologic progress in inhaled drug delivery and applications of aerosol science, with the use of the aerosolized route for drugs for systemic therapy and for gene replacement therapy, use of aerosolized antimicrobials and immunosuppressants, and interest in specific targeting of inhaled drugs.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, 4301 W Markham, Slot 555, Little Rock AR 72205;, Email: pjanderson@uams.edu

Publication date: September 1, 2005

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