AZ discontinues inhaler on 'technical issues'

AstraZeneca is giving up on a hard-to-manufacture inhaler. The company will stop making Pulmicort pMDI, a form of the asthma drug delivered through a pressurized inhaler, because of "manufacturing issues related to technical aspects of the device," the company said. Pulmicort pMDI is sold in 38 countries, PharmaTimes reports, but accounted for less than 0.1 percent of AZ's 2010 sales.

"[W]e have exhausted all potential solutions in our efforts to continue supplying this medicine," AZ manufacturing chief David Smith said in a statement. "The time required to fully resolve the technical issues is highly uncertain." The decision won't affect other forms of Pulmicort, such as Pulmicort Turbuhaler and Pulmicort Respules, nor will it affect other pMDI drugs sold by AstraZeneca.

Discontinuing Pulmicort pMDI will cost AZ some money, but a spokesman wouldn't hazard an estimate of any related charges. The real suffering belongs to SkyePharma, which developed the formulation for Pulmicort pMDI and collects "mid-teens" percentage royalties on its sales. The royalties account for about 5 percent of SkyePharma's overall sales, PharmaTimes notes.

- see the AZ press release
- read the PharmaTimes piece
- get more from Reuters