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.
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.
Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Electronic orange book: approved drug products with therapeutic equivalence evaluations. FDA Web site. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/cder/ob/. Accessed August 31, 2012.
National Library of Medicine (US). Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMED). NLM Web site. Available at: http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/htmlgen?LACT. Accessed April 9, 2007.
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