The lung dose and deposition patterns of drug delivered by dry powder inhaler are not known. The effects of inhaling 400 micrograms salbutamol delivered by dry powder inhaler (two 200 micrograms salbutamol Rotacaps), by pressurised metered dose inhaler, and by Acorn nebuliser were studied in nine subjects with chronic stable asthma. Technetium-99m labelled Teflon particles were mixed with micronised salbutamol in the pressurised metered dose inhaler and in the capsules; technetium-99m labelled human serum albumin was mixed with the salbutamol solution for the nebuliser study. The pressurised metered dose inhaler deposited 11.2% (SEM 0.8%) of the dose within the lungs; this was significantly more than the dose deposited by the dry powder inhaler (9.1% (0.6%], but did not differ significantly from the dose delivered by the nebuliser (9.9% (0.7%]. Distribution within the peripheral third of the lung was significantly greater with the nebuliser than with the other two systems; FEV1 improved to a significantly greater extent after inhalation of 400 micrograms salbutamol from the pressurised metered dose inhaler (35.6% from baseline) than from the nebuliser (25.8%) or dry powder inhaler (25.2%). Thus after inhalation of similar doses of salbutamol a larger proportion of drug was deposited within the lungs when it was inhaled from a metered dose inhaler than from a dry powder system; the nebuliser achieved the greatest peripheral deposition. The bronchodilator response seems to depend on the amount of drug within the lungs rather than its pattern of distribution.
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