FDA Approves Generic Symbicort for Asthma, COPD

Mark S. Lesney, PhD


March 16, 2022

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first generic of Symbicort (budesonide and formoterol fumarate dihydrate) inhalation aerosol for the treatment of asthma in patients 6 years of age and older and for the maintenance treatment of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including chronic bronchitis and/or emphysema.

The approval was given for a complex generic drug-device combination product — a metered-dose inhaler that contains both budesonide (a corticosteroid that reduces inflammation) and formoterol (a long-acting bronchodilator that relaxes muscles in the airways to improve breathing). It is intended to be used as two inhalations, two times a day (usually morning and night, about 12 hours apart), to treat both diseases by preventing symptoms, such as wheezing for those with asthma and for improved breathing for patients with COPD.

The inhaler is approved at two strengths (160/4.5 μg/actuation and 80/4.5 μg/actuation), according to the March 15 FDA announcement. The device is not intended for the treatment of acute asthma.

"Today's approval of the first generic for one of the most commonly prescribed complex drug-device combination products to treat asthma and COPD is another step forward in our commitment to bring generic copies of complex drugs to the market, which can improve quality of life and help reduce the cost of treatment," said Sally Choe, PhD, director of the Office of Generic Drugs in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

The most common side effects associated with budesonide and formoterol fumarate dihydrate oral inhalation aerosol for those with asthma are nasopharyngitis pain, sinusitis, influenza, back pain, nasal congestion, stomach discomfort, vomiting, and oral candidiasis (thrush). For those with COPD, the most common side effects are nasopharyngitis, oral candidiasis, bronchitis, sinusitis, and upper respiratory tract infection, the FDA reported.

The approval of this generic drug-device combination was granted to Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Inc. The FDA announcement can be found here.

Mark S. Lesney, PhD, is the editor for Medscape Pulmonary Medicine.

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