New Spiriva Formulation Available in January 2015

A new formulation of Spiriva will be available on the market in January 2015. Both Spiriva Handihaler and Spiriva Respimat contain the same active ingredients – tiotropium.  Tiotropium is an anticholinergic bronchodilator indicated for the long-term, once-daily, maintenance treatment for COPD. This new formulation turning the inhalation powder of tiotropium into inhalation spray is called Spiriva Respimat. The dry-powder inhalation, Spiriva HandiHaler, will continue to be available on the market. Spiriva Respimat provides a pre-measured amount of medicine in a slow-moving mist that helps patients inhale the medicine and is intended to deliver medication in a way that does not depend upon how fast the dry powder is breathed in from the inhaler. This new formulation may reduce the errors involving the inadvertent oral administration of Spiriva HandiHaler capsules for inhalation.

The results from clinical trial (TIOSPIR) shows Spiriva Respimat had a safety profile and exacerbation efficacy similar to Spiriva HandiHaler device(1). The most common side effects reported include sore throat, cough, dry mouth and sinus infection. One study assessed the effect of switching from HandiHaler to Respimat in patients with COPD shows similar effects and usability but patients experienced cough for the first 4 weeks of switching before they got used to the new formulation. The other finding was that dry mouth appeared to improve after switching to Respimat. However, this study was done on a small group of COPD patients (about 30 patients) and these patients were followed for 12 weeks after switching(2).

With similar costs and efficacy, the use of Spiriva Respimat may be limited in the hospice setting due to its requirement of active inhalation for effectiveness of drug delivery and training of inhaler technique as most end-stage COPD patients do not have effective positive force to inhale medication contents from the inhalers.


  1. Wise RA, Anzueto A, Cotton D, et al. Tiotropium Respimat Inhaler and the Risk of Death in COPD. N Engl J Med 2013;369:1491-501.
  2. Asakura Y, Nishimura N, Maezawa K, et al. Effect of switching tiotropium HandiHaler to Respimat Soft Mist Inhaler in patients with COPD: the difference of adverse events and usability between inhaler devices. J Aerosol Med Pulm Drug Deliv 2013 Feb;26(1):41-5.

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