ADVAIR HFA - Warnings fluticasone propionate and salmeterol xinafoate

The FDA requires all potential medication risks for ADVAIR HFA (fluticasone propionate and salmeterol xinafoate aerosol, metered) be disclosed to consumers, no matter how rare. Here are the warnings and precautions for ADVAIR HFA.

Warnings & Precautions

serious asthma-related events – hospitalizations, intubations, death

Use of LABA as monotherapy (without ICS) for asthma is associated with an increased risk of asthma-related death [see Salmeterol Multicenter Asthma Research Trial (SMART)]. Available data from controlled clinical trials also suggest that use of LABA as monotherapy increases the risk of asthma-related hospitalization in pediatric and adolescent patients. These findings are considered a class effect of LABA monotherapy. When LABA are used in fixed-dose combination with ICS, data from large clinical trials do not show a significant increase in the risk of serious asthma-related events (hospitalizations, intubations, death) compared with ICS alone (see Serious Asthma-Related Events with Inhaled Corticosteroid/Long-acting Beta2-adrenergic Agonists).

Serious Asthma-Related Events with Inhaled Corticosteroid/Long-acting Beta2-adrenergic Agonists

Four (4) large, 26-week, randomized, double-blind, active-controlled clinical safety trials were conducted to evaluate the risk of serious asthma-related events when LABA were used in fixed‑dose combination with ICS compared with ICS alone in subjects with asthma. Three (3) trials included adult and adolescent subjects aged 12 years and older: 1 trial compared fluticasone propionate/salmeterol inhalation powder with fluticasone propionate inhalation powder, 1 trial compared mometasone furoate/formoterol with mometasone furoate, and 1 trial compared budesonide/formoterol with budesonide. The fourth trial included pediatric subjects aged 4 to 11 years and compared fluticasone propionate/salmeterol inhalation powder with fluticasone propionate inhalation powder. The primary safety endpoint for all 4 trials was serious asthma-related events (hospitalizations, intubations, death). A blinded adjudication committee determined whether events were asthma related.

The 3 adult and adolescent trials were designed to rule out a risk margin of 2.0, and the pediatric trial was designed to rule out a risk margin of 2.7. Each individual trial met its pre-specified objective and demonstrated non-inferiority of ICS/LABA to ICS alone. A meta-analysis of the 3 adult and adolescent trials did not show a significant increase in risk of a serious asthma-related event with ICS/LABA fixed-dose combination compared with ICS alone (Table 1). These trials were not designed to rule out all risk for serious asthma-related events with ICS/LABA compared with ICS.

Table 1. Meta-analysis of Serious Asthma-Related Events in Subjects with Asthma Aged 12 Years and Older


(n = 17,537)a


(n = 17,552)a


Hazard Ratio

(95% CI)b

Serious asthma-related eventc



1.10 (0.85, 1.44)

  Asthma-related death



  Asthma-related intubation (endotracheal)



  Asthma-related hospitalization (≥24-hour stay)



ICS = Inhaled Corticosteroid, LABA = Long-acting Beta2-adrenergic Agonist.

a Randomized subjects who had taken at least 1 dose of study drug. Planned treatment used for analysis.

b Estimated using a Cox proportional hazards model for time to first event with baseline hazards stratified by each of the 3 trials.

c Number of subjects with event that occurred within 6 months after the first use of study drug or 7 days after the last date of study drug, whichever date was later. Subjects can have one or more events, but only the first event was counted for analysis. A single, blinded, independent adjudication committee determined whether events were asthma related.

The pediatric safety trial included 6,208 pediatric subjects aged 4 to 11 years who received ICS/LABA (fluticasone propionate/salmeterol inhalation powder) or ICS (fluticasone propionate inhalation powder). In this trial, 27/3,107 (0.9%) subjects randomized to ICS/LABA and 21/3,101 (0.7%) subjects randomized to ICS experienced a serious asthma-related event. There were no asthma-related deaths or intubations. ICS/LABA did not show a significantly increased risk of a serious asthma-related event compared with ICS based on the pre-specified risk margin (2.7), with an estimated hazard ratio of time to first event of 1.29 (95% CI: 0.73, 2.27).

Salmeterol Multicenter Asthma Research Trial (SMART)

A 28-week, placebo-controlled, U.S. trial that compared the safety of salmeterol with placebo, each added to usual asthma therapy, showed an increase in asthma-related deaths in subjects receiving salmeterol (13/13,176 in subjects treated with salmeterol versus 3/13,179 in subjects treated with placebo; relative risk: 4.37 [95% CI: 1.25, 15.34]). Use of background ICS was not required in SMART. The increased risk of asthma‑related death is considered a class effect of LABA monotherapy.

deterioration of disease & acute episodes

ADVAIR HFA should not be initiated in patients during rapidly deteriorating or potentially life-threatening episodes of asthma. ADVAIR HFA has not been studied in subjects with acutely deteriorating asthma. The initiation of ADVAIR HFA in this setting is not appropriate.

Serious acute respiratory events, including fatalities, have been reported when salmeterol, a component of ADVAIR HFA, has been initiated in patients with significantly worsening or acutely deteriorating asthma. In most cases, these have occurred in patients with severe asthma (e.g., patients with a history of corticosteroid dependence, low pulmonary function, intubation, mechanical ventilation, frequent hospitalizations, previous life-threatening acute asthma exacerbations) and in some patients with acutely deteriorating asthma (e.g., patients with significantly increasing symptoms; increasing need for inhaled, short-acting beta2-agonists; decreasing response to usual medications; increasing need for systemic corticosteroids; recent emergency room visits; deteriorating lung function). However, these events have occurred in a few patients with less severe asthma as well. It was not possible from these reports to determine whether salmeterol contributed to these events.

Increasing use of inhaled, short-acting beta2-agonists is a marker of deteriorating asthma. In this situation, the patient requires immediate reevaluation with reassessment of the treatment regimen, giving special consideration to the possible need for replacing the current strength of ADVAIR HFA with a higher strength, adding additional ICS, or initiating systemic corticosteroids. Patients should not use more than 2 inhalations twice daily of ADVAIR HFA.

ADVAIR HFA should not be used for the relief of acute symptoms, i.e., as rescue therapy for the treatment of acute episodes of bronchospasm. ADVAIR HFA has not been studied in the relief of acute symptoms and extra doses should not be used for that purpose. Acute symptoms should be treated with an inhaled, short-acting beta2-agonist.

When beginning treatment with ADVAIR HFA, patients who have been taking oral or inhaled, short-acting beta2-agonists on a regular basis (e.g., 4 times a day) should be instructed to discontinue the regular use of these drugs.

excessive use of advair hfa & use with other long-acting beta2-agonists

ADVAIR HFA should not be used more often than recommended, at higher doses than recommended, or in conjunction with other medicines containing LABA, as an overdose may result. Clinically significant cardiovascular effects and fatalities have been reported in association with excessive use of inhaled sympathomimetic drugs. Patients using ADVAIR HFA should not use another medicine containing a LABA (e.g., salmeterol, formoterol fumarate, arformoterol tartrate, indacaterol) for any reason.

local effects of inhaled corticosteroids

In clinical trials, the development of localized infections of the mouth and pharynx with Candida albicans has occurred in subjects treated with ADVAIR HFA. When such an infection develops, it should be treated with appropriate local or systemic (i.e., oral) antifungal therapy while treatment with ADVAIR HFA continues, but at times therapy with ADVAIR HFA may need to be interrupted. Advise the patient to rinse his/her mouth with water without swallowing following inhalation to help reduce the risk of oropharyngeal candidiasis.


Lower respiratory tract infections, including pneumonia, have been reported in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) following the inhaled administration of corticosteroids, including fluticasone propionate and ADVAIR DISKUS. In 2 replicate 1-year trials in 1,579 subjects with COPD, there was a higher incidence of pneumonia reported in subjects receiving ADVAIR DISKUS 250/50 (7%) than in those receiving salmeterol 50 mcg (3%). The incidence of pneumonia in the subjects treated with ADVAIR DISKUS was higher in subjects older than 65 years (9%) compared with the incidence in subjects younger than 65 years (4%).

In a 3-year trial in 6,184 subjects with COPD, there was a higher incidence of pneumonia reported in subjects receiving ADVAIR DISKUS 500/50 compared with placebo (16% with ADVAIR DISKUS 500/50, 14% with fluticasone propionate 500 mcg, 11% with salmeterol 50 mcg, and 9% with placebo). Similar to what was seen in the 1-year trials with ADVAIR DISKUS 250/50, the incidence of pneumonia was higher in subjects older than 65 years (18% with ADVAIR DISKUS 500/50 versus 10% with placebo) compared with subjects younger than 65 years (14% with ADVAIR DISKUS 500/50 versus 8% with placebo).


Persons who are using drugs that suppress the immune system are more susceptible to infections than healthy individuals. Chickenpox and measles, for example, can have a more serious or even fatal course in susceptible children or adults using corticosteroids. In such children or adults who have not had these diseases or been properly immunized, particular care should be taken to avoid exposure. How the dose, route, and duration of corticosteroid administration affect the risk of developing a disseminated infection is not known. The contribution of the underlying disease and/or prior corticosteroid treatment to the risk is also not known. If a patient is exposed to chickenpox, prophylaxis with varicella zoster immune globulin (VZIG) may be indicated. If a patient is exposed to measles, prophylaxis with pooled intramuscular immunoglobulin (IG) may be indicated. (See the respective package inserts for complete VZIG and IG prescribing information.) If chickenpox develops, treatment with antiviral agents may be considered.

ICS should be used with caution, if at all, in patients with active or quiescent tuberculosis infections of the respiratory tract; systemic fungal, bacterial, viral, or parasitic infections; or ocular herpes simplex.

transferring patients from systemic corticosteroid therapy

Particular care is needed for patients who have been transferred from systemically active corticosteroids to ICS because deaths due to adrenal insufficiency have occurred in patients with asthma during and after transfer from systemic corticosteroids to less systemically available ICS. After withdrawal from systemic corticosteroids, a number of months are required for recovery of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) function.

Patients who have been previously maintained on 20 mg or more of prednisone (or its equivalent) may be most susceptible, particularly when their systemic corticosteroids have been almost completely withdrawn. During this period of HPA suppression, patients may exhibit signs and symptoms of adrenal insufficiency when exposed to trauma, surgery, or infection (particularly gastroenteritis) or other conditions associated with severe electrolyte loss. Although ADVAIR HFA may control asthma symptoms during these episodes, in recommended doses it supplies less than normal physiological amounts of glucocorticoid systemically and does NOT provide the mineralocorticoid activity that is necessary for coping with these emergencies.

During periods of stress or a severe asthma attack, patients who have been withdrawn from systemic corticosteroids should be instructed to resume oral corticosteroids (in large doses) immediately and to contact their physicians for further instruction. These patients should also be instructed to carry a warning card indicating that they may need supplementary systemic corticosteroids during periods of stress or a severe asthma attack.

Patients requiring oral corticosteroids should be weaned slowly from systemic corticosteroid use after transferring to ADVAIR HFA. Prednisone reduction can be accomplished by reducing the daily prednisone dose by 2.5 mg on a weekly basis during therapy with ADVAIR HFA. Lung function (mean forced expiratory volume in 1 second [FEV1] or morning peak expiratory flow [AM PEF]), beta-agonist use, and asthma symptoms should be carefully monitored during withdrawal of oral corticosteroids. In addition, patients should be observed for signs and symptoms of adrenal insufficiency, such as fatigue, lassitude, weakness, nausea and vomiting, and hypotension.

Transfer of patients from systemic corticosteroid therapy to ADVAIR HFA may unmask allergic conditions previously suppressed by the systemic corticosteroid therapy (e.g., rhinitis, conjunctivitis, eczema, arthritis, eosinophilic conditions).

During withdrawal from oral corticosteroids, some patients may experience symptoms of systemically active corticosteroid withdrawal (e.g., joint and/or muscular pain, lassitude, depression) despite maintenance or even improvement of respiratory function.

hypercorticism & adrenal suppression

Fluticasone propionate, a component of ADVAIR HFA, will often help control asthma symptoms with less suppression of HPA function than therapeutically equivalent oral doses of prednisone. Since fluticasone propionate is absorbed into the circulation and can be systemically active at higher doses, the beneficial effects of ADVAIR HFA in minimizing HPA dysfunction may be expected only when recommended dosages are not exceeded and individual patients are titrated to the lowest effective dose. A relationship between plasma levels of fluticasone propionate and inhibitory effects on stimulated cortisol production has been shown after 4 weeks of treatment with fluticasone propionate inhalation aerosol. Since individual sensitivity to effects on cortisol production exists, physicians should consider this information when prescribing ADVAIR HFA.

Because of the possibility of significant systemic absorption of ICS in sensitive patients, patients treated with ADVAIR HFA should be observed carefully for any evidence of systemic corticosteroid effects. Particular care should be taken in observing patients postoperatively or during periods of stress for evidence of inadequate adrenal response.

It is possible that systemic corticosteroid effects such as hypercorticism and adrenal suppression (including adrenal crisis) may appear in a small number of patients who are sensitive to these effects. If such effects occur, ADVAIR HFA should be reduced slowly, consistent with accepted procedures for reducing systemic corticosteroids, and other treatments for management of asthma symptoms should be considered.

drug interactions with strong cytochrome p450 3a4 inhibitors

The use of strong cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) inhibitors (e.g., ritonavir, atazanavir, clarithromycin, indinavir, itraconazole, nefazodone, nelfinavir, saquinavir, ketoconazole, telithromycin) with ADVAIR HFA is not recommended because increased systemic corticosteroid and increased cardiovascular adverse effects may occur [see Drug Interactions (7.1), Clinical Pharmacology (12.3)].

paradoxical bronchospasm & upper airway symptoms

As with other inhaled medicines, ADVAIR HFA can produce paradoxical bronchospasm, which may be life threatening. If paradoxical bronchospasm occurs following dosing with ADVAIR HFA, it should be treated immediately with an inhaled, short-acting bronchodilator; ADVAIR HFA should be discontinued immediately; and alternative therapy should be instituted. Upper airway symptoms of laryngeal spasm, irritation, or swelling, such as stridor and choking, have been reported in patients receiving ADVAIR HFA.

immediate hypersensitivity reactions

Immediate hypersensitivity reactions (e.g., urticaria, angioedema, rash, bronchospasm, hypotension), including anaphylaxis, may occur after administration of ADVAIR HFA [see Contraindications (4)].

cardiovascular & central nervous system effects

Excessive beta-adrenergic stimulation has been associated with seizures, angina, hypertension or hypotension, tachycardia with rates up to 200 beats/min, arrhythmias, nervousness, headache, tremor, palpitation, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, malaise, and insomnia [see Overdosage (10.2)]. Therefore, ADVAIR HFA, like all products containing sympathomimetic amines, should be used with caution in patients with cardiovascular disorders, especially coronary insufficiency, cardiac arrhythmias, and hypertension.

Salmeterol, a component of ADVAIR HFA, can produce a clinically significant cardiovascular effect in some patients as measured by pulse rate, blood pressure, and/or symptoms. Although such effects are uncommon after administration of salmeterol at recommended doses, if they occur, the drug may need to be discontinued. In addition, beta-agonists have been reported to produce electrocardiogram (ECG) changes, such as flattening of the T wave, prolongation of the QTc interval, and ST segment depression. The clinical significance of these findings is unknown. Large doses of inhaled or oral salmeterol (12 to 20 times the recommended dose) have been associated with clinically significant prolongation of the QTc interval, which has the potential for producing ventricular arrhythmias. Fatalities have been reported in association with excessive use of inhaled sympathomimetic drugs.

reduction in bone mineral density

Decreases in bone mineral density (BMD) have been observed with long-term administration of products containing ICS. The clinical significance of small changes in BMD with regard to long-term consequences such as fracture is unknown. Patients with major risk factors for decreased bone mineral content, such as prolonged immobilization, family history of osteoporosis, postmenopausal status, tobacco use, advanced age, poor nutrition, or chronic use of drugs that can reduce bone mass (e.g., anticonvulsants, oral corticosteroids), should be monitored and treated with established standards of care.

2-Year Fluticasone Propionate Trial

A 2-year trial in 160 subjects (females aged 18 to 40 years, males 18 to 50) with asthma receiving chlorofluorocarbon (CFC)-propelled fluticasone propionate inhalation aerosol 88 or 440 mcg twice daily demonstrated no statistically significant changes in BMD at any time point (24, 52, 76, and 104 weeks of double-blind treatment) as assessed by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry at lumbar regions L1 through L4.

effect on growth

Orally inhaled corticosteroids may cause a reduction in growth velocity when administered to pediatric patients. Monitor the growth of pediatric patients receiving ADVAIR HFA routinely (e.g., via stadiometry). To minimize the systemic effects of orally inhaled corticosteroids, including ADVAIR HFA, titrate each patient’s dosage to the lowest dosage that effectively controls his/her symptoms [see Dosage and Administration (2), Use in Specific Populations (8.4)].

glaucoma & cataracts

Glaucoma, increased intraocular pressure, and cataracts have been reported in patients with asthma following the long-term administration of ICS, including fluticasone propionate, a component of ADVAIR HFA. Consider referral to an ophthalmologist in patients who develop ocular symptoms or use ADVAIR HFA long term [see Adverse Reactions (6)].

eosinophilic conditions & churg-strauss syndrome

In rare cases, patients on inhaled fluticasone propionate, a component of ADVAIR HFA, may present with systemic eosinophilic conditions. Some of these patients have clinical features of vasculitis consistent with Churg-Strauss syndrome, a condition that is often treated with systemic corticosteroid therapy. These events usually, but not always, have been associated with the reduction and/or withdrawal of oral corticosteroid therapy following the introduction of fluticasone propionate. Cases of serious eosinophilic conditions have also been reported with other ICS in this clinical setting. Physicians should be alert to eosinophilia, vasculitic rash, worsening pulmonary symptoms, cardiac complications, and/or neuropathy presenting in their patients. A causal relationship between fluticasone propionate and these underlying conditions has not been established.

coexisting conditions

ADVAIR HFA, like all medicines containing sympathomimetic amines, should be used with caution in patients with convulsive disorders or thyrotoxicosis and in those who are unusually responsive to sympathomimetic amines. Large doses of the related beta2-adrenoceptor agonist albuterol, when administered intravenously, have been reported to aggravate preexisting diabetes mellitus and ketoacidosis.

hypokalemia & hyperglycemia

Beta-adrenergic agonist medicines may produce significant hypokalemia in some patients, possibly through intracellular shunting, which has the potential to produce adverse cardiovascular effects [see Clinical Pharmacology (12.2)]. The decrease in serum potassium is usually transient, not requiring supplementation. Clinically significant changes in blood glucose and/or serum potassium were seen infrequently during clinical trials with ADVAIR HFA at recommended doses.

This drug label information is as submitted to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is intended for informational purposes only. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911. 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.
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