400 micrograms/12 micrograms/inhalation, inhalation powder.
Each delivered dose (the dose that leaves the mouthpiece) contains: budesonide 320 micrograms/inhalation and formoterol fumarate dihydrate 9 micrograms/inhalation.
Each metered dose contains: budesonide 400 micrograms/inhalation and formoterol fumarate dihydrate 12 micrograms/inhalation.
Excipient: lactose monohydrate 491 micrograms per dose.
For a full list of excipients, see section 6.1.
Symbicort Turbohaler is indicated in the regular treatment of asthma where use of a combination (inhaled corticosteroid and long-acting β2
adrenoceptor agonist) is appropriate:
- patients not adequately controlled with inhaled corticosteroids and as needed inhaled short-acting β2
- patients already adequately controlled on both inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting β2
Symptomatic treatment of patients with severe COPD (FEV1
< 50% predicted normal) and a history of repeated exacerbations, who have significant symptoms despite regular therapy with long-acting bronchodilators.
Route of administration: For inhalation use.
Symbicort Turbohaler is not intended for the initial management of asthma. The dosage of the components of Symbicort is individual and should be adjusted to the severity of the disease. This should be considered not only when treatment with combination products is initiated but also when the maintenance dose is adjusted. If an individual patient should require a combination of doses other than those available in the combination inhaler, appropriate doses of β2
adrenoceptor agonists and/or corticosteroids by individual inhalers should be prescribed.
Recommended doses:Adults (18 years and older):
1 inhalation twice daily. Some patients may require up to a maximum of 2 inhalations twice daily.Adolescents (12-17 years):
1 inhalation twice daily.
Patients should be regularly reassessed by their prescriber/health care provider, so that the dosage of Symbicort remains optimal. The dose should be titrated to the lowest dose at which effective control of symptoms is maintained. When long-term control of symptoms is maintained with the lowest recommended dosage, then the next step could include a test of inhaled corticosteroid alone.
In usual practice when control of symptoms is achieved with the twice daily regimen, titration to the lowest effective dose could include Symbicort given once daily, when in the opinion of the prescriber, a long-acting bronchodilator would be required to maintain control.
Increasing use of a separate rapid-acting bronchodilator indicates a worsening of the underlying condition and warrants a reassessment of the asthma therapy.Children (6 years and older):
A lower strength is available for children 6-11 years. Children under 6 years
: As only limited data are available, Symbicort is not recommended for children younger than 6 years.
Symbicort 400/12 should be used as Symbicort maintenance therapy only. Lower strengths are available for the Symbicort maintenance and reliever therapy regimen.
Recommended doses: Adults:
1 inhalation twice daily.
General informationSpecial patient groups:
There are no special dosing requirements for elderly patients. There are no data available for use of Symbicort in patients with hepatic or renal impairment. As budesonide and formoterol are primarily eliminated via hepatic metabolism, an increased exposure can be expected in patients with severe liver cirrhosis.
Instructions for correct use of Turbohaler:
Turbohaler is inspiratory flow-driven, which means that when the patient inhales through the mouthpiece, the substance will follow the inspired air into the airways.Note:
It is important to instruct the patient
• to carefully read the instructions for use in the patient information leaflet which is packed together with each inhaler
• to breathe in forcefully and deeply through the mouthpiece to ensure that an optimal dose is delivered to the lungs
• never to breathe out through the mouthpiece
• to replace the cover of the Symbicort Turbohaler after use
• to rinse their mouth out with water after inhaling the maintenance dose to minimise the risk of oropharyngeal thrush.
The patient may not taste or feel any medication when using Symbicort Turbohaler due to the small amount of drug dispensed.
Hypersensitivity (allergy) to budesonide, formoterol or lactose (which contains small amounts of milk protein).
It is recommended that the dose is tapered when the treatment is discontinued and should not be stopped abruptly.
If patients find the treatment ineffective, or exceed the highest recommended dose of Symbicort, medical attention must be sought (see section 4.2). Increasing use of rescue bronchodilators indicates a worsening of the underlying condition and warrants a reassessment of the asthma therapy. Sudden and progressive deterioration in control of asthma or COPD is potentially life threatening and the patient should undergo urgent medical assessment. In this situation consideration should be given to the need for increased therapy with corticosteroids e.g. a course of oral corticosteroids, or antibiotic treatment if an infection is present.
Patients should be advised to have their rescue inhaler available at all times.
Patients should be reminded to take their Symbicort maintenance dose as prescribed, even when asymptomatic.
Once asthma symptoms are controlled, consideration may be given to gradually reducing the dose of Symbicort. Regular review of patients as treatment is stepped down is important. The lowest effective dose of Symbicort should be used (see section 4.2).
Patients should not be initiated on Symbicort during an exacerbation, or if they have significantly worsening or acutely deteriorating asthma.
Serious asthma-related adverse events and exacerbations may occur during treatment with Symbicort. Patients should be asked to continue treatment but to seek medical advice if asthma symptoms remain uncontrolled or worsen after initiation of Symbicort.
As with other inhalation therapy, paradoxical bronchospasm may occur, with an immediate increase in wheezing and shortness of breath after dosing. If the patient experiences paradoxical bronchospasm Symbicort should be discontinued immediately, the patient should be assessed and an alternative therapy instituted, if necessary. Paradoxical bronchospasm responds to a rapid-acting inhaled bronchodilator and should be treated straightaway (see section 4.8).
Systemic effects may occur with any inhaled corticosteroid, particularly at high doses prescribed for long periods. These effects are much less likely to occur with inhalation treatment than with oral corticosteroids. Possible systemic effects include Cushing's syndrome, Cushingoid features, adrenal suppression, growth retardation in children and adolescents, decrease in bone mineral density, cataract and glaucoma, and more rarely, a range of psychological or behavioural effects including psychomotor hyperactivity, sleep disorders, anxiety, depression or aggression (particularly in children) (see section 4.8).
It is recommended that the height of children receiving prolonged treatment with inhaled corticosteroids is regularly monitored. If growth is slowed, therapy should be re-evaluated with the aim of reducing the dose of inhaled corticosteroid to the lowest dose at which effective control of asthma is maintained, if possible. The benefits of the corticosteroid therapy and the possible risks of growth suppression must be carefully weighed. In addition consideration should be given to referring the patient to a paediatric respiratory specialist.
Limited data from long-term studies suggest that most children and adolescents treated with inhaled budesonide will ultimately achieve their adult target height. However, an initial small but transient reduction in growth (approximately 1 cm) has been observed. This generally occurs within the first year of treatment.
Potential effects on bone should be considered, particularly in patients on high doses for prolonged periods that have co-existing risk factors for osteoporosis. Long-term studies with inhaled budesonide in children at mean daily doses of 400 micrograms (metered dose) or in adults at daily doses of 800 micrograms (metered dose) have not shown any significant effects on bone mineral density. No information regarding the effect of Symbicort at higher doses is available.
If there is any reason to suppose that adrenal function is impaired from previous systemic steroid therapy, care should be taken when transferring patients to Symbicort therapy.
The benefits of inhaled budesonide therapy would normally minimise the need for oral steroids, but patients transferring from oral steroids may remain at risk of impaired adrenal reserve for a considerable time. Recovery may take a considerable amount of time after cessation of oral steroid therapy and hence oral steroid-dependent patients transferred to inhaled budesonide may remain at risk from impaired adrenal function for some considerable time. In such circumstances HPA axis function should be monitored regularly.
Prolonged treatment with high doses of inhaled corticosteroids, particularly higher than recommended doses, may also result in clinically significant adrenal suppression. Therefore additional systemic corticosteroid cover should be considered during periods of stress such as severe infections or elective surgery. Rapid reduction in the dose of steroids can induce acute adrenal crisis. Symptoms and signs which might be seen in acute adrenal crisis may be somewhat vague but may include anorexia, abdominal pain, weight loss, tiredness, headache, nausea, vomiting, decreased level of consciousness, seizures, hypotension and hypoglycaemia.
Treatment with supplementary systemic steroids or inhaled budesonide should not be stopped abruptly.
During transfer from oral therapy to Symbicort, a generally lower systemic steroid action will be experienced which may result in the appearance of allergic or arthritic symptoms such as rhinitis, eczema and muscle and joint pain. Specific treatment should be initiated for these conditions. A general insufficient glucocorticosteroid effect should be suspected if, in rare cases, symptoms such as tiredness, headache, nausea and vomiting should occur. In these cases a temporary increase in the dose of oral glucocorticosteroids is sometimes necessary.
To minimise the risk of oropharyngeal candida infection, the patient should be instructed to rinse their mouth out with water after inhaling the maintenance dose.
Concomitant treatment with itraconazole, ritonavir or other potent CYP3A4 inhibitors should be avoided (see section 4.5). If this is not possible, the time interval between administration of the interacting drugs should be as long as possible.
Symbicort should be administered with caution in patients with thyrotoxicosis, phaeochromocytoma, diabetes mellitus, untreated hypokalaemia, hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy, idiopathic subvalvular aortic stenosis, severe hypertension, aneurysm or other severe cardiovascular disorders, such as ischaemic heart disease, tachyarrhythmias or severe heart failure.
Caution should be observed when treating patients with prolongation of the QTc-interval. Formoterol itself may induce prolongation of the QTc-interval.
The need for, and dose of inhaled corticosteroids should be re-evaluated in patients with active or quiescent pulmonary tuberculosis, fungal and viral infections in the airways.
Potentially serious hypokalaemia may result from high doses of β2
adrenoceptor agonists. Concomitant treatment of β2
adrenoceptor agonists with drugs which can induce hypokalaemia or potentiate a hypokalaemic effect, e.g. xanthine-derivatives, steroids and diuretics, may add to a possible hypokalaemic effect of the β2
adrenoceptor agonist. Particular caution is recommended in unstable asthma with variable use of rescue bronchodilators, in acute severe asthma as the associated risk may be augmented by hypoxia and in other conditions when the likelihood for hypokalaemia is increased. It is recommended that serum potassium levels are monitored during these circumstances.
As for all β2
adrenoceptor agonists, additional blood glucose controls should be considered in diabetic patients.
Symbicort Turbohaler contains lactose monohydrate (< 1 mg/inhalation). This amount does not normally cause problems in lactose intolerant people. The excipient lactose contains small amounts of milk proteins, which may cause allergic reactions.
Potent inhibitors of CYP3A4 (eg, ketoconazole, itraconazole, voriconazole, posaconazole, clarithromycin, telithromycin, nefazodone and HIV protease inhibitors) are likely to markedly increase plasma levels of budesonide and concomitant use should be avoided. If this is not possible the time interval between administration of the inhibitor and budesonide should be as long as possible (see section 4.4).
The potent CYP3A4 inhibitor ketoconazole, 200 mg once daily, increased plasma levels of concomitantly orally administered budesonide (single dose of 3 mg) on average six-fold. When ketoconazole was administered 12 hours after budesonide the concentration was on average increased only three-fold showing that separation of the administration times can reduce the increase in plasma levels. Limited data about this interaction for high-dose inhaled budesonide indicates that marked increases in plasma levels (on average four fold) may occur if itraconazole, 200 mg once daily, is administered concomitantly with inhaled budesonide (single dose of 1000 µg).Pharmacodynamic interactions
Beta-adrenergic blockers can weaken or inhibit the effect of formoterol. Symbicort should therefore not be given together with beta-adrenergic blockers (including eye drops) unless there are compelling reasons.
Concomitant treatment with quinidine, disopyramide, procainamide, phenothiazines, antihistamines (terfenadine), monoamine oxidase inhibitors and tricyclic antidepressants can prolong the QTc-interval and increase the risk of ventricular arrhythmias.
In addition L-Dopa, L-thyroxine, oxytocin and alcohol can impair cardiac tolerance towards β2
Concomitant treatment with monoamine oxidase inhibitors, including agents with similar properties such as furazolidone and procarbazine, may precipitate hypertensive reactions.
There is an elevated risk of arrhythmias in patients receiving concomitant anaesthesia with halogenated hydrocarbons.
Concomitant use of other beta-adrenergic drugs or anticholinergic drugs can have a potentially additive bronchodilating effect.
Hypokalaemia may increase the disposition towards arrhythmias in patients who are treated with digitalis glycosides.
Budesonide and formoterol have not been observed to interact with any other drugs used in the treatment of asthma.
For Symbicort or the concomitant treatment with formoterol and budesonide, no clinical data on exposed pregnancies are available. Data from an embryo-fetal development study in the rat, showed no evidence of any additional effect from the combination.
There are no adequate data from use of formoterol in pregnant women. In animal studies formoterol has caused adverse effects in reproduction studies at very high systemic exposure levels (see section 5.3).
Data on approximately 2000 exposed pregnancies indicate no increased teratogenic risk associated with the use of inhaled budesonide. In animal studies glucocorticosteroids have been shown to induce malformations (see section 5.3). This is not likely to be relevant for humans given recommended doses.
Animal studies have also identified an involvement of excess prenatal glucocorticoids in increased risks for intrauterine growth retardation, adult cardiovascular disease and permanent changes in glucocorticoid receptor density, neurotransmitter turnover and behaviour at exposures below the teratogenic dose range.
During pregnancy, Symbicort should only be used when the benefits outweigh the potential risks. The lowest effective dose of budesonide needed to maintain adequate asthma control should be used.
Budesonide is excreted in breast milk. However, at therapeutic doses no effects on the suckling child are anticipated. It is not known whether formoterol passes into human breast milk. In rats, small amounts of formoterol have been detected in maternal milk. Administration of Symbicort to women who are breast-feeding should only be considered if the expected benefit to the mother is greater than any possible risk to the child.
Symbicort has no or negligible influence on the ability to drive and use machines.
Since Symbicort contains both budesonide and formoterol, the same pattern of undesirable effects as reported for these substances may occur. No increased incidence of adverse reactions has been seen following concurrent administration of the two compounds. The most common drug related adverse reactions are pharmacologically predictable side-effects of β2
adrenoceptor agonist therapy, such as tremor and palpitations. These tend to be mild and usually disappear within a few days of treatment. In a 3-year clinical trial with budesonide in COPD, skin bruises and pneumonia occurred at a frequency of 10% and 6%, respectively, compared with 4% and 3% in the placebo group (p<0.001 and p<0.01, respectively).
Adverse reactions, which have been associated with budesonide or formoterol, are given below, listed by system organ class and frequency. Frequencies are defined as: very common (≥1/10), common (≥1/100 to <1/10), uncommon (≥1/1000 to <1/100), rare (≥1/10 000 to <1/1000) and very rare (<1/10 000).
|SOC||Frequency||Adverse Drug reaction|
|Infections and infestations
||Candida infections in the oropharynx
|Immune system disorders
||Immediate and delayed hypersensitivity reactions, e.g. exanthema, urticaria, pruritus, dermatitis, angioedema and anaphylactic reaction
||Cushing's syndrome, adrenal suppression, growth retardation, decrease in bone mineral density
|Metabolism and nutrition disorders
||Aggression, psychomotor hyperactivity, anxiety, sleep disorders
||Depression, behavioural changes (predominantly in children)
|Nervous system disorders
||Cataract and glaucoma
||Cardiac arrhythmias, eg. atrial fibrillation, supraventricular tachycardia, extrasystoles
||Angina pectoris. Prolongation of QTc- interval
||Variations in blood pressure
|Respiratory, thoracic and mediastinal disorders
||Mild irritation in the throat, coughing, hoarseness
|Skin and subcutaneous tissue disorders
|Musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders
Candida infection in the oropharynx is due to drug deposition. Advising the patient to rinse the mouth out with water after each dose will minimise the risk. Oropharyngeal Candida infection usually responds to topical anti-fungal treatment without the need to discontinue the inhaled corticosteroid.
As with other inhalation therapy, paradoxical bronchospasm may occur very rarely, affecting less than 1 in 10,000 people, with an immediate increase in wheezing and shortness of breath after dosing. Paradoxical bronchospasm responds to a rapid-acting inhaled bronchodilator and should be treated straightaway. Symbicort should be discontinued immediately, the patient should be assessed and an alternative therapy instituted if necessary (see section 4.4).
Systemic effects of inhaled corticosteroids may occur, particularly at high doses prescribed for prolonged periods. These effects are much less likely to occur than with oral corticosteroids. Possible systemic effects include Cushing's Syndrome, Cushingoid features, adrenal suppression, growth retardation in children and adolescents, decrease in bone mineral density, cataract and glaucoma. Increased susceptibility to infections and impairment of the ability to adapt to stress may also occur. Effects are probably dependent on dose, exposure time, concomitant and previous steroid exposure and individual sensitivity.
Treatment with β2
adrenoceptor agonists may result in an increase in blood levels of insulin, free fatty acids, glycerol and ketone bodies.
An overdose of formoterol would likely lead to effects that are typical for β2
adrenoceptor agonists: tremor, headache, palpitations. Symptoms reported from isolated cases are tachycardia, hyperglycaemia, hypokalaemia, prolonged QTc-interval, arrhythmia, nausea and vomiting. Supportive and symptomatic treatment may be indicated. A dose of 90 micrograms administered during three hours in patients with acute bronchial obstruction raised no safety concerns.
Acute overdosage with budesonide, even in excessive doses, is not expected to be a clinical problem. When used chronically in excessive doses, systemic glucocorticosteroid effects, such as hypercorticism and adrenal suppression, may appear.
If Symbicort therapy has to be withdrawn due to overdose of the formoterol component of the drug, provision of appropriate inhaled corticosteroid therapy must be considered.
: Adrenergics and other drugs for obstructive airway diseases.ATC-code
Mechanisms of action and pharmacodynamic effects
Symbicort contains formoterol and budesonide, which have different modes of action and show additive effects in terms of reduction of asthma exacerbations. The mechanisms of action of the two substances, respectively are discussed below.
Budesonide is a glucocorticosteroid which when inhaled has a dose-dependent anti-inflammatory action in the airways, resulting in reduced symptoms and fewer asthma exacerbations. Inhaled budesonide has less severe adverse effects than systemic corticosteroids. The exact mechanism responsible for the anti-inflammatory effect of glucocorticosteroids is unknown.
Formoterol is a selective β2
adrenoceptor agonist that when inhaled results in rapid and long-acting relaxation of bronchial smooth muscle in patients with reversible airways obstruction. The bronchodilating effect is dose-dependent, with an onset of effect within 1-3 minutes. The duration of effect is at least 12 hours after a single dose.
Clinical studies in adults have shown that the addition of formoterol to budesonide improved asthma symptoms and lung function, and reduced exacerbations.
In two 12-week studies, the effect on lung function of budesonide/formoterol was equal to that of the free combination of budesonide and formoterol, and exceeded that of budesonide alone. All treatment arms used a short-acting β2
adrenoceptor agonist as needed. There was no sign of attenuation of the anti-asthmatic effect over time.
Two 12-week paediatric studies have been performed in which 265 children aged 6-11 years were treated with a maintenance dose of budesonide/formoterol (2 inhalations of 80 micrograms /4.5 micrograms/inhalation twice daily), and a short acting beta2-adrenoceptor agonist as needed. In both studies, lung function was improved and the treatment was well tolerated compared to the corresponding dose of budesonide alone.
In two 12-month studies, the effect on lung function and the rate of exacerbation (defined as courses of oral steroids and/or course of antibiotics and/or hospitalisations) in patients with severe COPD was evaluated. Median FEV1
at inclusion in the trials was 36% of predicted normal. The mean number of exacerbations per year (as defined above) was significantly reduced with budesonide/formoterol as compared with treatment with formoterol alone or placebo (mean rate 1.4 compared with 1.8-1.9 in the placebo/formoterol group). The mean number of days on oral corticosteroids/patient during the 12 months was slightly reduced in the budesonide/formoterol group (7-8 days/patient/year compared with 11-12 and 9-12 days in the placebo and formoterol groups, respectively). For changes in lung-function parameters, such as FEV1,
budesonide/formoterol was not superior to treatment with formoterol alone.
The fixed-dose combination of budesonide and formoterol and the corresponding monoproducts have been shown to be bioequivalent with regard to systemic exposure of budesonide and formoterol, respectively. In spite of this, a small increase in cortisol suppression was seen after administration of the fixed-dose combination compared with the monoproducts. The difference is considered not to have an impact on clinical safety.
There was no evidence of pharmacokinetic interactions between budesonide and formoterol.
Pharmacokinetic parameters for the respective substances were comparable after the administration of budesonide and formoterol as monoproducts or as the fixed-dose combination. For budesonide, AUC was slightly higher, rate of absorption more rapid and maximal plasma concentration higher after administration of the fixed combination. For formoterol, maximal plasma concentration was similar after administration of the fixed combination. Inhaled budesonide is rapidly absorbed and the maximum plasma concentration is reached within 30 minutes after inhalation. In studies, mean lung deposition of budesonide after inhalation via the powder inhaler ranged from 32% to 44% of the delivered dose. The systemic bioavailability is approximately 49% of the delivered dose. In children 6-16 years of age the lung deposition falls in the same range as in adults for the same given dose. The resulting plasma concentrations were not determined.
Inhaled formoterol is rapidly absorbed and the maximum plasma concentration is reached within 10 minutes after inhalation. In studies the mean lung deposition of formoterol after inhalation via the powder inhaler ranged from 28% to 49% of the delivered dose. The systemic bioavailability is about 61% of the delivered dose.
Distribution and metabolism
Plasma protein binding is approximately 50% for formoterol and 90% for budesonide. Volume of distribution is about 4 l/kg for formoterol and 3 l/kg for budesonide. Formoterol is inactivated via conjugation reactions (active O-demethylated and deformylated metabolites are formed, but they are seen mainly as inactivated conjugates). Budesonide undergoes an extensive degree (approximately 90%) of biotransformation on first passage through the liver to metabolites of low glucocorticosteroid activity. The glucocorticosteroid activity of the major metabolites, 6-beta-hydroxy-budesonide and 16-alfa-hydroxy-prednisolone, is less than 1% of that of budesonide. There are no indications of any metabolic interactions or any displacement reactions between formoterol and budesonide.
The major part of a dose of formoterol is transformed by liver metabolism followed by renal elimination. After inhalation, 8% to 13% of the delivered dose of formoterol is excreted unmetabolised in the urine. Formoterol has a high systemic clearance (approximately 1.4 l/min) and the terminal elimination half-life averages 17 hours.
Budesonide is eliminated via metabolism mainly catalysed by the enzyme CYP3A4. The metabolites of budesonide are eliminated in urine as such or in conjugated form. Only negligible amounts of unchanged budesonide have been detected in the urine. Budesonide has a high systemic clearance (approximately 1.2 l/min) and the plasma elimination half-life after i.v. dosing averages 4 hours.
The pharmacokinetics of budesonide or formoterol in children and patients with renal failure are unknown. The exposure of budesonide and formoterol may be increased in patients with liver disease.
The toxicity observed in animal studies with budesonide and formoterol, given in combination or separately, were effects associated with exaggerated pharmacological activity.
In animal reproduction studies, corticosteroids such as budesonide have been shown to induce malformations (cleft palate, skeletal malformations). However, these animal experimental results do not seem to be relevant in humans at the recommended doses. Animal reproduction studies with formoterol have shown a somewhat reduced fertility in male rats at high systemic exposure and implantation losses as well as decreased early postnatal survival and birth weight at considerably higher systemic exposures than those reached during clinical use. However, these animal experimental results do not seem to be relevant in humans.
Lactose monohydrate (which contains milk proteins).
Do not store above 30°C. Keep the container tightly closed, in order to protect from moisture.
Symbicort Turbohaler is an inspiratory flow-driven, multidose powder inhaler. The inhaler is white with a red turning grip. The inhaler is made of different plastic materials (PP, PC, HDPE, LDPE, LLDPE, PBT). In each secondary package there are 1, 2, 3, 10 or 18 inhaler(s) containing 60 doses. Not all pack sizes may be marketed.
AstraZeneca UK Limited
600 Capability Green
LU1 3LU, UK
Date of first authorisation: 20th
Date of last renewal: 19th