Levalbuterol is commonly prescribed to treat or prevent respiratory conditions, such as asthma or COPD. By opening up the airways, the drug can help allow more air into the lungs. It is administered through a nebulizer and must be taken as prescribed in order to work properly. Potential side effects include viral infections, a runny nose, and shakiness.

What Is Levalbuterol?

Levalbuterol hydrochloride (Xopenex®) is a prescription medication used to treat or prevent airway spasms (called bronchospasms). Bronchospasms are most common in people with asthma, but can also occur in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
Levalbuterol is used in a nebulizer, a device that changes liquid medications into fine droplets that are inhaled into the lungs. It also comes in an inhaler (see Xopenex HFA).
(Click What Is Levalbuterol Used For? for more information, including possible off-label uses for the drug.)

Who Makes It?

Brand-name levalbuterol is made by Sunovion Pharmaceuticals. Generic versions are sold by various manufacturers.

How Does the Medication Work?

Normally, air moves easily into and out of the lungs through a network of airways. However, during an asthma attack, the muscles around these airways tighten. This narrows the airways and makes it harder to breathe. This is called a bronchospasm.
Levalbuterol is part of a class of drugs called beta-adrenergic receptor agonists, or beta agonists for short. Beta agonists stimulate beta receptors in the body, including those on the muscles around the airways. This stimulation causes the muscles to relax, which opens up the airways and allows more air to get into and through the lungs. The medication also has some effects on decreasing the activity of mast cells in the lungs, which play an important role in inflammation and allergic reactions.
Levalbuterol is similar to another medication, albuterol. While albuterol products contain both the inactive and active forms of the molecule, levalbuterol contains only the active form.
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Levalbuterol (Xopenex)

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