Breo Ellipta (generic name: fluticasone furoate and vilanterol inhalation powder) is an inhaled medication containing long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonist (LABA) and corticosteroid drugs. It is prescribed as a treatment for two conditions – asthma in adults aged 18 years and older and in cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to treat symptoms such as bronchitis and emphysema.
The specially designed Breo Ellipta inhaler dispenses a precise dosage of the inhalation powder that contains a combination of fluticasone and vilanterol. Fluticasone is a corticosteroid that inhibits the release of molecules in the body that can cause inflammation. Vilanterol works as a bronchodilator that relaxes muscles in the airways to improve breathing.
Breo Ellipta is a daily dosage combination medicine that is prescribed for adults with asthma that are not responding to other therapies, or for people suffering from a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In both cases, it works to improve symptoms and reduce bronchospasm attacks.
For people with COPD, Breo Ellipta is used as a long-term treatment. The medicine is for short-term use in people with asthma until symptoms can be controlled with other medications.
How does Breo Ellipta Work?
Fluticasone furoate helps to improve breathing by reducing swelling and inflammation in the lungs. Inflammation and swelling are triggers for asthma attacks. Vilanterol relaxes the muscles around the airways in the lungs and so helps open them to allow for easier breathing.
Breo Ellipta is not intended to be used to relieve sudden breathing problems. Conventional inhalers with a bronchodilator such as albuterol (Ventolin) can continue to be administered to treat any sudden onset of symptoms.
What Are the Main Symptoms of Asthma?
Asthma can present itself with a wide range of severity. Still, in general, the symptoms are relatively common across the spectrum. They include breathlessness, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, chest pain, consistent coughing, and broken sleep at night.
Use of a bronchodilator such as Ventolin (Albuterol) more than two or three times a week is generally taken as an indication that a preventive regime rather than relaxing the muscles around the airways may be necessary.
What Does Breo Ellipta Do for People with Asthma?
Breo Ellipta is prescribed as a once-daily preventive treatment of asthma in patients aged 18 years and older. Breo Ellipta is usually prescribed for patients whose asthma is not adequately controlled on a conventional long-term asthma control medication such as an inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) or whose condition requires treatment by both an ICS and LABA
What Symptoms of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease are Treated by Breo Ellipta?
More than 16 million Americans have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). It causes airflow blockage and breathing-related problems. It causes emphysema and chronic bronchitis, which make breathing difficult.
COPD and asthma both cause swelling of the airways, and so they can both cause similar symptoms such as shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing. The main difference is that asthma is typically accompanied by a feeling of tightness in the chest and wheezing and is more transient. COPD symptoms are usually more long-lasting, and the cough frequently brings up phlegm.
What Are the Side Effects of Breo Ellipta?
The common side effects of Breo Ellipta include:
- runny nose
- sore throat
- upper respiratory tract infection
- pain or thrush (candidiasis) in the mouth or throat
- back or joint pain
- pneumonia, flu, bronchitis, cough
- inflammation of the sinuses
- raised blood pressure
If these don’t clear up after a few days, you should report them to your healthcare provider or pharmacist. It is important not to vary the dose and not to stop administering the dose without first consulting with your doctor.
Some more severe side effects have been reported, including:
- Any sudden increase in mucus production, or noticed as a change in mucus color
- Fever and chills
- Increased cough or breathing problems
- Feeling tired and a general lack of energy and weakness; nausea and vomiting; low blood pressure may indicate adrenal insufficiency. This is more likely to occur at the start of treatment when switching over to Breo Ellipta from other corticosteroids
- Sudden breathing problems immediately after inhaling
- Any allergic reactions such as a rash, hives, swelling around the face and tongue.
In any such case, consult as soon as possible with the prescribing doctor or another healthcare provider.
For How Long Should You Use Breo Ellipta?
When prescribed for people with COPD, Breo Ellipta is intended as a long-term treatment. In the case of people with asthma, it is meant to be used as a short-term treatment until other medicines properly control the symptoms. As always, your prescribing physician will have taken all of your own personal needs and conditions into account when prescribing the dosage and period of treatment.
Can a Pregnant Woman or New Mother Take Breo Ellipta?
There is no evidence as yet that Breo Ellipta can harm an unborn baby, but the studies that have been done so far have not included this group. However, uncontrolled asthma during pregnancy may result in eclampsia leading to complications including premature birth and low birth weight, or other medical problems for both baby and mother. Your doctor will assess whether the benefits of treating your asthma outweigh any risks.
If you fall pregnant while already taking Breo Ellipta, contact your prescribing physician or obstetrician for advice.
For new mothers, studies have not yet determined whether it is safe to breastfeed while using Breo Ellipta. Again, your doctor will be able to judge and advise on any risk.
What should I tell my prescribing doctor before I take Breo Ellipta?
Your doctor will ask you questions about your allergies as well as any medications or dietary supplements you are using that he or she may not be aware of. If you have any doubts or questions, you should make sure to tell your doctor if any of the following are not included in your medical history:
- any thyroid disorder
- glaucoma or cataracts
- a weakened immune system
- heart disease or blood pressure problems
- liver disease
- a history of seizures
- chronic bacterial, fungal, viral, or parasitic infections
What cautions do I need to take when taking Breo Ellipta?
Long-term treatments by steroids all involve the risk of osteoporosis (loss of bone density). This risk is elevated for people who smoke, do not exercise regularly, or lack the necessary dietary vitamin D and calcium intake. If there is a history of osteoporosis in your family, you should talk to the prescribing doctor about this.
Breo Ellipta can cause immunosuppression (a weakening of the immune system). It may worsen pre-existing tuberculosis or infections or result in a herpes infection in your eyes. You should report any such development immediately to your doctor.
What must I avoid while taking Breo Ellipta?
There are no major drug interactions between Breo Ellipta and other prescription medications. You should discuss with your prescribing physician or dispensing pharmacist if you are taking any of the following medications:
- Furosemide (a diuretic)
- Metformin (blood-sugar control for people with diabetes)
- Trazodone (SARI anti-depressant)
As well, if you are already taking Breo Ellipta and are subsequently prescribed any of the above, discuss this with the consulting physician or dispensing pharmacist.