History of Asthma Inhalers

As a medical device used for the delivery of medication into the body via the airways, the inhaler (or puffer) is the most common method of administering asthma medication to patients suffering from this condition or its related symptoms. Although documented incidences of asthma date back to the 1600s, it was the invention of the pressurized metered-dose inhaler (MDI) that first made anti-asthma therapy a real possibility.

  1. History

    • The original asthma medications delivered by MDI were pressurized and aerosolized preparations of isoproterenol and epinephrine that had been dissolved in alcohol by freon propellants.

    Metered-Dose Inhaler

    • Introduced in 1956, this device is pressurized, delivering a precise amount of asthma medication to the patient's lungs via inhalation.


    • Invented in 1957, this small, fast-acting MDI administers asthma treatments by delivering a short burst of aerosolized medication that, upon inhalation, allows for the quick dilation and relaxation of the bronchial airways.


    • Introduced in the 1960s, this device assists those asthmatics who suffer from severe asthma attacks or who cannot inhale deeply. It delivers a continuous dose of vaporized medication that is steadily inhaled over a period of time.


    • The asthma inhaler (bronchodilator MDI) has been utilized for delivering approximately 70 percent of all inhaled medications among the 15 largest countries alone, reaching sales numbers of almost 500 million each year.


    • Modern asthma inhalers have used chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) propellants to deliver aerosolized medications; however, in the past decade manufacturers have replaced this propellant with hydrofluoroalkane (HFA), which is more environmentally friendly.

    Fun Fact

    • As introduced in 1956, the original MDI was designed for the American cosmetic industry and intended for use as a perfumery device.

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