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Terbutaline

(ter byoo' ta leen)

Brand Name(s): Brethine®, Bricanyl®; also available generically

IMPORTANT WARNING:

Terbutaline should not be used to stop or prevent premature labor in pregnant women, especially in women who are not in a hospital. Terbutaline has caused serious side effects, including death, in pregnant women who took the medication for this purpose. Terbutaline has also caused serious side effects in newborns whose mothers took the medication to stop or prevent labor.

WHY is this medicine prescribed?

Terbutaline is used to prevent and treat wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness caused by asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. Terbutaline is in a class of medications called beta agonists. It works by relaxing and opening the airways, making it easier to breathe.

Are there OTHER USES for this medicine?

This medication may be prescribed for other uses. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

HOW should this medicine be used?

Terbutaline comes as a tablet to take by mouth. The tablets are usually taken three times a day, once every six hours. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take terbutaline exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.

Each dose of terbutaline should control your symptoms for at least 6 hours after you take it. If you find that your symptoms return before it is time for your next dose, that terbutaline does not control your symptoms as well as it did at the beginning of your treatment, or that your symptoms are getting worse, call your doctor. These may be signs that your condition is worsening.

Terbutaline may control your symptoms but will not cure your condition. Continue to use terbutaline even if you feel well. Do not stop taking terbutaline without talking to your doctor.

What SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS should I follow?

Before taking terbutaline,

  • tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to terbutaline, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in terbutaline tablets. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
  • tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: beta blockers such as atenolol (Tenormin), carteolol (Cartrol), labetalol (Normodyne, Trandate), metoprolol (Lopressor), nadolol (Corgard), propanolol (Inderal), sotalol (Betapace), and timolol (Blocadren); certain diuretics ( 'water pills'); other medications for asthma; and medications for colds, appetite control, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Also tell your doctor if you are taking any of the following medications or if you have stopped taking them in the past 2 weeks: tricyclic antidepressants including amitriptyline, amoxapine, clomipramine (Anafranil), desipramine (Norpramin), doxepin, imipramine (Tofranil), maprotiline, nortriptyline (Pamelor), protriptyline (Vivactil), and trimipramine (Surmontil) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) including isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam, Zelapar), and tranylcypromine (Parnate). Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
  • tell your doctor if you have or have ever had an irregular heartbeat, heart disease, high blood pressure, an overactive thyroid gland, diabetes, or seizures.
  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking terbutaline, call your doctor.
  • if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking terbutaline.

What SPECIAL DIETARY instructions should I follow?

Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.

What should I do IF I FORGET to take a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.

What SIDE EFFECTS can this medicine cause?

Terbutaline may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body
  • nervousness
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • weakness
  • headache
  • nausea
  • sweating
  • dry mouth

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:

  • increased difficulty breathing
  • tightening of the throat
  • fast, pounding, or irregular heartbeat
  • chest pain
  • seizures

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).

Terbutaline may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while you are taking this medication.

What should I know about STORAGE and DISPOSAL of this medication?

Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom).

Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA's Safe Disposal of Medicines website (http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.

It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org

What should I do in case of OVERDOSE?

In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can't be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.

Symptoms of overdose may include:

  • chest pain
  • fast, pounding, or irregular heartbeat
  • dizziness or fainting
  • nervousness
  • headache
  • uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body
  • excessive tiredness
  • difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • weakness
  • dry mouth
  • seizures

What OTHER INFORMATION should I know?

Keep all appointments with your doctor.

Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.

It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.

This branded product is no longer on the market. Generic alternatives may be available.


This report on medications is for your information only, and is not considered individual patient advice. Because of the changing nature of drug information, please consult your physician or pharmacist about specific clinical use.

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists® represents that the information provided hereunder was formulated with a reasonable standard of care, and in conformity with professional standards in the field. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists® makes no representations or warranties, express or implied, including, but not limited to, any implied warranty of merchantability and/or fitness for a particular purpose, with respect to such information and specifically disclaims all such warranties. Users are advised that decisions regarding drug therapy are complex medical decisions requiring the independent, informed decision of an appropriate health care professional, and the information is provided for informational purposes only. The entire monograph for a drug should be reviewed for a thorough understanding of the drug's actions, uses and side effects. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists® does not endorse or recommend the use of any drug. The information is not a substitute for medical care.

Pronunciation Guide for Drug Names is used with permission. © 2009. The United States Pharmacopeial Convention. All Rights Reserved.

AHFS® Patient Medication Information™. © Copyright, 2020. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists®, 4500 East-West Highway, Suite 900, Bethesda, Maryland. All Rights Reserved. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized by ASHP.

Selected Revisions: May 15, 2017.