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Duoneb vs Combivent

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Duoneb Information

Combivent Information


Dosage Information

Side Effects

Safety Information


Market Information


For patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) or other types of lung conditions, certain drugs that alter the concentration of compounds in the lungs, called bronchodilators, can help in easing breathing difficulties and managing symptoms. Duoneb and Combivent are two such medications that are prescribed for these lung conditions. They each impact different aspects of airway resistance but both have a bronchodilator effect on patients with COPD. Duoneb is a combination drug containing Ipratropium Bromide and Albuterol Sulfate which work together to relax and open air passages in the lungs. Combivent, on the other hand, although it contains the same active ingredients as Duoneb - Ipratropium Bromide and Albuterol Sulfate - its formulation is used through an inhaler rather than a nebulizer machine like Duoneb.

Duoneb vs Combivent Side By Side

Brand NameDuonebCombivent
ContraindicationsShould not be taken if currently taking or have recently taken MAO inhibitors or tricyclic antidepressants.Should not be taken if currently taking or have recently taken MAO inhibitors or tricyclic antidepressants.
CostAbout $200 for a package of solution vials (60 x 3ml vials) or roughly $6.50/day. Generics range from about $0.80 to $2 per day.About $450 for one Respimat inhaler (120 metered doses) or approximately $15/day. Generics range from about $0.80 to $2 per day.
Generic NameIpratropium Bromide/Albuterol SulfateIpratropium Bromide/Albuterol Sulfate
Most Serious Side EffectSigns of an allergic reaction such as hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. Bronchospasm, chest pain and fast or irregular heartbeats, tremors or nervousness, high blood pressure, low potassium levels.Signs of an allergic reaction such as hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. Chest pain, fast or pounding heartbeats or fluttering in your chest, painful or difficult urination, blurred vision and eye pain, low potassium level, high blood sugar.
Severe Drug InteractionsMAO inhibitors or tricyclic antidepressants.MAO inhibitors or tricyclic antidepressants.
Typical Dose1–2 inhalations every 4-6 hours, not to exceed eight inhalations within 24 hours.One inhalation four times per day, can be increased to two puffs as necessary, not to exceed 12 puffs in 24 hours.

What is Duoneb?

Duoneb and Combivent are both combination medications designed to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including bronchitis and emphysema. They each contain two active ingredients: ipratropium bromide, an anticholinergic that relaxes airway muscles; and albuterol sulfate, a beta2-agonist that stimulates airflow to the lungs. Duoneb was introduced as a nebulizer solution for use four times daily or as needed. It is typically used in more severe cases of COPD where consistent medication delivery is necessary.

On the other hand, Combivent Respimat was approved by the FDA in 2011 as a handheld inhaler providing precise doses with each puff, offering convenience but requiring patients to be capable of coordinating their breath with device actuation. Both have similar side effects which may include coughing, nervousness or shaking due to albuterol's stimulant effect on the respiratory system. However, compared to Duoneb's continuous flow method via nebulization, Combivent Respimat might result in less systemic exposure due to localized drug deposition thereby potentially minimizing side effects.

What conditions is Duoneb approved to treat?

Duoneb is approved for the treatment of different types of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD):

  • Bronchospasm associated with COPD in patients requiring more than one bronchodilator
  • Maintenance therapy for airflow obstruction in patients with COPD including chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

How does Duoneb help with these illnesses?

Duoneb helps manage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by increasing the amount of bronchodilation in the lungs. It does this by combining two active ingredients: ipratropium and albuterol, which work together to relax and open up the airways, making it easier for patients to breathe. Ipratropium is an anticholinergic that inhibits reflexes that constrict the bronchi while albuterol acts on beta-2 receptors causing relaxation of smooth muscle in the airway. These are both neurotransmitters involved in lung function regulation.

It's believed that individuals with COPD have higher levels of inflammation leading to constriction of their airways. Therefore, by enhancing bronchodilation, Duoneb can limit negative effects associated with COPD and help patients better manage their condition and stabilize their breathing patterns.

What is Combivent?

Combivent is a brand name for the combination of albuterol and ipratropium, which are bronchodilators that relax muscles in the airways to improve breathing. Albuterol is a short-acting β2-adrenergic receptor agonist (SABA), meaning it targets receptors in the lungs to stimulate dilation of the airways, while ipratropium works by blocking muscarinic acetylcholine receptors in the lungs thereby reducing mucus secretion and bronchoconstriction. Combivent was approved by FDA around 1996. As Combivent doesn't contain corticosteroids, it does not have typical steroid-related side effects such as weight gain or mood changes. Its unique dual action on different types of receptors means its side-effect profile can be different from other inhalers containing only one type of medication like Duoneb. The effects on both β2-adrenergic and muscarinic acetylcholine receptors can be beneficial for managing symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), especially in patients who do not respond well to single-agent inhalers such as Duoneb.

What conditions is Combivent approved to treat?

Combivent is approved for the treatment of:

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Bronchospasm associated with COPD in patients who require more than one bronchodilator

This medication combines two types of drugs to help manage these respiratory conditions effectively. It's important to understand that it is not intended to rapidly treat a bronchospasm attack, but rather for long-term management and prevention.

How does Combivent help with these illnesses?

Combivent is a combination bronchodilator that contains two active ingredients: ipratropium and albuterol. These combined medications work together to relax the muscles around your airways and open up the air passages in the lungs, thereby helping people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) breathe better. Ipratropium blocks acetylcholine receptors in smooth muscle cells of the respiratory tract, which inhibits bronchoconstriction. Albuterol stimulates beta-2 adrenergic receptors in lung muscles, causing them to relax.

Similarly to Duoneb, Combivent improves airflow and reduces shortness of breath for those suffering from conditions like COPD or asthma. However, unlike Duoneb — which is typically used multiple times daily — Combivent’s formulation allows it to be used less frequently due its longer duration of action. This makes it a potentially more convenient choice for patients who struggle with frequent dosing schedules.

How effective are both Duoneb and Combivent?

Both Duoneb and Combivent are established, effective treatments for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). They have been approved by the FDA in close succession and are both combination drugs that contain a bronchodilator (albuterol in Duoneb, ipratropium bromide in Combivent) as well as an anticholinergic agent. These two classes of medications work synergistically to help relax and open airways in patients with COPD.

The efficacy of Duoneb and Combivent was compared directly in a double-blind clinical trial conducted in 2006; the two drugs exhibited comparable effectiveness at reducing symptoms of breathlessness, coughing, wheezing, chest tightness. In this study it was found that there were no significant differences between patients receiving either drug when measuring various metrics related to lung function or quality of life improvement.

A review from 2010 demonstrated that the combination therapy provided by both these drugs is more effective than using either component alone for managing COPD symptoms. Both are generally well tolerated among adult populations, though some side effects such as dry mouth or urinary retention may occur.

Similar to bupropion being considered after other first-line therapies have failed or caused unacceptable side effects for depression treatment, combivent is typically considered only after monotherapy has proven insufficiently effective at controlling COPD symptoms due to its slightly higher cost compared to individual components used separately. Nonetheless due to their unique combined pharmacology they can be highly beneficial for individuals who did not respond adequately or had intolerable side effects from single-agent bronchodilators.

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At what dose is Duoneb typically prescribed?

Inhaled doses of Duoneb range from 1–2 inhalations every 4-6 hours, but studies have suggested that one inhalation is usually adequate for managing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in most adults. Children and adolescents may start with a lower dosage as directed by the physician. In either population, the dosage can be increased after a few days if there's no significant response. The maximum dosage that should not be exceeded under any circumstance is eight inhalations within 24 hours.

At what dose is Combivent typically prescribed?

Combivent treatment is typically initiated with a dose of one inhalation four times per day. This can be increased to two puffs as necessary, but should not exceed 12 puffs in 24 hours. The doses should be spaced approximately six hours apart. If there is no response to treatment after several weeks or if symptoms worsen, consult your healthcare provider for further evaluation and potential adjustment of medication regimen.

What are the most common side effects for Duoneb?

Common side effects of Duoneb include:

  • Cough
  • Nervousness
  • Tremor (unintentional trembling or shaking)
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth and throat irritation
  • Upset stomach, nausea, vomiting
  • Difficulty sleeping (Insomnia)

For Combivent, the common side effects are similar but may also include:

  • Increased heart rate or palpitations
  • Chest pain
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Bronchitis and upper respiratory infection
  • Dyspepsia (burning, discomfort, or pain in the digestive tract)

Both medications can cause allergic reactions that may result in rash, itching/swelling especially of the face/tongue/throat. If you experience any serious side effects from either medication such as wheezing/ difficulty breathing after using these medications seek immediate medical attention.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Duoneb?

Duoneb and Combivent are both medications formulated to manage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). They have similar side effects due to their similar active ingredients. However, in rare cases, severe reactions can occur:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction such as hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue or throat
  • Bronchospasm (wheezing, chest tightness, trouble breathing), especially after starting a new inhaler
  • Chest pain and fast or irregular heartbeats
  • Tremors or nervousness
  • High blood pressure - severe headache, pounding in your neck or ears, irregular heartbeats
  • Low potassium levels - leg cramps, constipation, irregular heartbeats with fluttering in your chest.

If you experience any of the above symptoms while using Duoneb or Combivent it is crucial that you seek immediate medical attention. It's also important to know that these medicines should not be used for sudden COPD symptoms – a different medication may be needed.

What are the most common side effects for Combivent?

Common side effects of Combivent may include:

  • Dry mouth, cough, or hoarseness
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
  • Headache or dizziness
  • Muscle cramps or weakness
  • Increased heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Upper respiratory tract infection symptoms such as stuffy nose, sore throat
  • Shaking hands/tremor

Are there any potential serious side effects for Combivent?

While Combivent is generally considered to be a safe and effective treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), it can, on rare occasions, lead to serious side effects. These may include:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction such as hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat
  • Chest pain, fast or pounding heartbeats or fluttering in your chest
  • Painful or difficult urination
  • Blurred vision and eye pain - It may also cause narrow-angle glaucoma so avoid getting this medication in your eyes.
  • Low potassium level leading to leg cramps, constipation, irregular heartbeats
  • High blood sugar - Increased thirst or urination.

If you experience any severe side effects while using Combivent Respimat inhaler like bronchospasm (wheezing) right after inhaling the medicine then immediate medical attention should be sought. Also if shortness of breath worsens quickly over a period of time then one must seek help immediately.

Contraindications for Duoneb and Combivent?

Both Duoneb and Combivent, like most bronchodilator medications, may worsen symptoms in some patients. If you notice an increase in wheezing or trouble breathing after starting these drugs, please seek immediate medical attention.

Neither Duoneb nor Combivent should be taken if you are currently taking or have recently taken certain types of antidepressants known as monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors or tricyclic antidepressants. Always inform your healthcare provider about all the medications you are taking; MAOIs and tricyclics will require a period of about 2 weeks to clear from the system to prevent dangerous interactions with Duoneb and Combivent.

Remember that these inhalers can cause dry mouth, throat irritation, coughing, nervousness or shaking. These side effects usually lessen as your body adjusts to the medication. However, if they persist or become bothersome it's important for your doctor to know so adjustments can be made accordingly.

How much do Duoneb and Combivent cost?

For the branded versions of these drugs:

  • The price for one Combivent Respimat inhaler (120 metered doses) averages around $450, which works out to approximately $15/day, depending on your dose.
  • The cost for a package of Duoneb solution vials (60 x 3ml vials) is roughly $200 or about $6.50/day.

Thus, if you are in the higher dosage range for Combivent (i.e., more than 4 puffs per day), then brand-name Duoneb can be less expensive on a per-day treatment basis. Please note that cost should not be a primary consideration in determining which of these drugs is right for you.

As far as generic versions go:

  • Ipratropium bromide/albuterol sulfate (the active ingredients in both Combivent and Duoneb) is available as an inhalation solution with costs ranging from about $0.80 to $2 per day based on typical dosages.

While there may be some variation due to location, insurance coverage or pharmacy choice, generally speaking, the generics will offer significant savings over their respective brand name counterparts.

Popularity of Duoneb and Combivent

Duoneb and Combivent are two brands of combination drugs containing the same active ingredients: ipratropium bromide and albuterol sulfate. Both medications are used in the management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

In 2020, Duoneb was prescribed to approximately 1.2 million people in the US, accounting for around 8% of bronchodilator prescriptions. The use of Duoneb has been gradually increasing since its introduction due to its efficacy in managing COPD symptoms.

Combivent is a more recent formulation that includes a metered-dose inhaler design. It was prescribed to an estimated 900,000 people in the USA last year. Despite being newer on the market than Duoneb, Combivent has quickly gained popularity because it's easier to use and provides flexible dosing options compared to traditional nebulizer treatments like Duoneb.


Both Duoneb and Combivent have proven records of use in patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), supported by numerous clinical studies indicating that they are more effective than placebo treatments. They contain the same active ingredients: ipratropium, a bronchodilator that relaxes muscles in the airways to improve breathing, and albuterol sulfate which opens up the air passages in the lungs. However, due to their different ratios of these components, they tend to be prescribed under varying circumstances.

Duoneb usually serves as a first-line treatment option for COPD exacerbations at home or in emergency situations due its higher concentration of albuterol while Combivent Respimat is typically used for maintenance treatment of COPD symptoms.

Both medications are available in generic forms representing significant cost savings especially for long-term users who may need to pay out-of-pocket. Both Duoneb and Combivent might require an adaptation period meaning beneficial effects may not be noticeable immediately.

The side effect profile is similar between both drugs; common adverse effects include dry mouth, coughing or wheezing after use, throat irritation among others but major side effects like chest pain or irregular heartbeat should warrant immediate medical attention. As always it is important that patients monitor their symptoms closely when initiating new treatments.