Direct delivery of a drug to the lung has a number of advantages over oral administration, including the use of less drug to achieve the same therapeutic benefit, a reduction in the likelihood of systemic side effects, and a more rapid onset of action. There are two possible mechanisms for delivery of drugs to the lung, either via an aerosol or direct instillation. The most commonly used is the aerosol, which consists of finely divided liquid droplets or solid particles in a gaseous suspension. An atomizer is the general term for a device which generates an aerosol and may be electrically, pneumatically or mechanically powered. Unfortunately today, the term aerosol, in general usage, has become synonymous with a pressurized package.
Pharmaceutical aerosols may be divided into two types. Space sprays disperse the drug as a finely divided spray with particles not exceeding 50 pm Surface-coating aerosols produce a coarse or wet spray and are used to coat surfaces with a residual film. Only space sprays are used for pulmonary drug delivery. The main types of device used at present to produce aerosols are nebulizers, metered dose inhalers (MDI) and dry powder inhalers (DPI), although development of the technology is causing the distinctions between these devices to become blurred.
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