The management of asthma should normally follow a stepwise programme, and patient response should be monitored clinically and by lung function tests.
Increasing use of short-acting inhaled beta-2 agonists to control symptoms indicates deterioration of asthma control. Under these conditions, the patient's therapy plan should be reassessed. Sudden and progressive deterioration in asthma control is potentially life-threatening and consideration should be given to starting or increasing corticosteroid therapy. In patients considered at risk, daily peak flow monitoring may be instituted. Patients should be warned that if either the usual relief is diminished or the usual duration of action reduced, they should not increase the dose or its frequency of administration, but should seek medical advice. VENTOLIN should be administered cautiously to patients with thyrotoxicosis.
Potentially serious hypokalaemia may result from beta-2 agonist therapy mainly from parenteral and nebulised administration. Particular caution is advised in acute severe asthma as this effect may be potentiated by concomitant treatment with xanthine derivatives, steroids, diuretics and by hypoxia. It is recommended that serum potassium levels are monitored in such situations.
In common with other beta-adrenoceptor agonists, VENTOLIN can induce reversible metabolic changes, for example increased blood sugar levels. The diabetic patient may be unable to compensate for this and the development of ketoacidosis has been reported. Concurrent administration of corticosteroids can exaggerate this effect.
Use in pregnancy & lactation: Fertility: There is no information on the effects of salbutamol on human fertility. There were no adverse effects on fertility in animals.
Pregnancy: Administration of drugs during pregnancy should only be considered if the expected benefit to the mother is greater than any possible risk to the foetus. During worldwide marketing experience, rare cases of various congenital anomalies, including cleft palate and limb defects have been reported in the offspring of patients being treated with salbutamol. Some of the mothers were taking multiple medications during their pregnancies. As no consistent pattern of defects can be discerned, and baseline rate for congenital anomalies is 2 to 3%, a relationship with salbutamol use cannot be established.
Lactation: As salbutamol is probably secreted in breast milk its use in nursing mothers is not recommended unless the expected benefits outweigh any potential risk. It is not known whether salbutamol in breast milk has a harmful effect on the neonate.