GENERIC NAME: salmeterol
BRAND NAME: Serevent
DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Asthma is a breathing problem involving narrowing of the airways. Airways are breathing passages that allow air to move in and out of the lungs. In patients with asthma, airways can be narrowed by accumulation of mucus, spasm of the muscles that surround these airways, or swelling of the lining of the airways. Airway narrowing lead to symptoms of shortness of breath, wheezing, cough, and congestion. Medications used in treating asthma open airways are called bronchodilators. Salmeterol is a bronchodilator of the beta-2 agonist type. Beta-2 agonists are medications that stimulate beta-2 receptors on the smooth muscle cells that line the airways, causing these muscle cells to relax, thus, opening airways.
Certain allergens (such as pollen) can cause airway narrowing by inducing release of histamine by mast cells. Histamine is a natural chemical that causes tissue swelling and other allergic reactions in the body when released into the tissue. Mast cells belong to a class of immune cells located around the airways. Salmeterol is an inhaled medication that blocks the release of histamine by the mast cells, thus preventing airway narrowing when exposed to allergens.
PRESCRIBED FOR: Salmeterol is used twice daily (morning and evening) for the maintenance treatment of asthma and in preventing spasm of the airways (bronchospasm) in patients 12 years and older. Salmeterol is also used for the prevention of exercise induced asthma. Salmeterol is a long-acting beta-2 agonist, its action starts within 15 minutes and can last more than 12 hours. Therefore, salmeterol is useful in patients that require frequent administration of short acting beta-2 agonists, such as albuterol, for control of their asthma symptoms. Salmeterol is generally not used in patients whose asthma symptoms can be easily controlled with infrequent administration of short acting inhalers. Some patients with chronic bronchitis and emphysema may also benefit from salmeterol when their symptoms are related to reversible airway narrowing.
Quick GuideAsthma Pictures Slideshow: An Inflammatory Disorder of the Airways
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Need help identifying pills and medications?
Use the pill identifier tool on RxList.