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Systematic (IUPAC) name
CAS number 23031-25-6
ATC code R03AC03 R03CC03
PubChem 5403
DrugBank APRD00589
Chemical data
Formula C12H19NO3 
Mol. mass 225.284 g/mol
Pharmacokinetic data
Bioavailability  ?
Metabolism GI tract (oral), liver; CYP450: unknown
Half life urine 90% (60% unchanged), bile/faeces; Half-life: 3-4h
Excretion  ?
Therapeutic considerations
Pregnancy cat.


Legal status


Routes SQ, Oral, Inhaled

Terbutaline (trade names Brethine, Bricanyl, or Brethaire) is a β2-adrenergic receptor agonist, used as a fast-acting bronchodilator (often used as a short-term asthma treatment) and as a tocolytic to delay premature labour. The inhaled form of terbutaline starts working within 15 minutes and can last up to 6 hours.

Terbutaline as a treatment for premature labour is an off-label use not approved by the FDA. It is a pregnancy category 'B' medication and is routinely prescribed to stop contractions.

Side Effects

Maternal - tachycardia, nervousness, tremors, headache and possible pulmonary edema. Fetal - tachycardia and hypoglycemia. Terbutaline is preferred over Ritodrine because it has minimal effects on blood pressure.



    Generic Name: terbutaline (oral) (ter BYOO ta leen) Brand Names: Brethine, Bricanyl

    What is terbutaline? Terbutaline is a bronchodilator. Terbutaline works by relaxing muscles in the airways to improve breathing.

    Terbutaline is used to treat bronchospasm (wheezing, shortness of breath) associated with lung diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema.

    Terbutaline may also be used for conditions other than those listed in this medication guide.

    What is the most important information I should know about terbutaline? Seek medical attention if you notice that you require more than your usual or more than the maximum amount of any asthma medication in a 24-hour period. An increased need for medication could be an early sign of a serious asthma attack.

    What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking terbutaline? Before taking terbutaline, tell your doctor if you have

    heart disease or high blood pressure;

    epilepsy or another seizure disorder;


    an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism);

    liver disease; or kidney disease. You may not be able to take terbutaline or you may require a dosage adjustment or special monitoring during treatment if you have any of the conditions listed above.

    Terbutaline is in the FDA pregnancy category B. This means that terbutaline is not expected to be harmful to an unborn baby. Do not take terbutaline without first talking to your doctor if you are pregnant or could become pregnant during treatment. Terbutaline passes into breast milk and may affect a nursing baby. Do not take terbutaline without first talking to your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

    How should I take terbutaline? Take terbutaline exactly as directed by your doctor. If you do not understand these directions, ask your pharmacist, nurse, or doctor to explain them to you.

    Take each dose with a full glass of water. It is important to take terbutaline regularly to get the most benefit.

    Do not take terbutaline more often or in larger doses than is prescribed by your doctor. Taking more medication than is prescribed could be dangerous. Seek medical attention if you notice that you require more than your usual or more than the maximum amount of any asthma medication in a 24-hour period. An increased need for medication could be an early sign of a serious asthma attack. Your doctor may want you to have lung function tests or other medical evaluations during treatment with terbutaline to monitor progress and side effects.

    Store terbutaline at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

    What happens if I miss a dose? Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for the next regularly scheduled dose, skip the missed dose and take the next one as directed. Do not take a double dose of this medication.

    What happens if I overdose? Seek emergency medical attention if an overdose is suspected. Symptoms of a terbutaline overdose may include angina or chest pain, irregular heartbeats or a fluttering heart, seizures, tremor, weakness, headache, nausea, and vomiting.

    What should I avoid while taking terbutaline? Avoid situations that may worsen your respiratory condition such as exercising in cold, dry air; smoking; breathing in dust; and exposure to allergens such as pet fur.

    Terbutaline side effects Stop taking terbutaline and seek emergency medical attention if you experience any of the following serious side effects: an allergic reaction (difficulty breathing; closing of the throat; swelling of the lips, tongue, or face; or hives); or

    chest pain or irregular heartbeats.

    Other, less serious side effects may be more likely to occur. Continue to take terbutaline and talk to your doctor if you experience


    dizziness or lightheadedness;


    tremor or nervousness;


    nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea; or

    dry mouth.

    Side effects other than those listed here may also occur. Talk to your doctor about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome.

    What other drugs will affect terbutaline? Before taking terbutaline, tell your doctor if you are taking any of the following medicines:

    a beta-blocker such as atenolol (Tenormin), metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL), propranolol (Inderal), acebutolol (Sectral), bisoprolol (Zebeta), carteolol (Cartrol), carvedilol (Coreg), labetalol (Normodyne, Trandate), nadolol (Corgard), or pindolol (Visken); a tricyclic antidepressant such as amitriptyline (Elavil), doxepin (Sinequan), nortriptyline (Pamelor), amoxapine (Asendin), clomipramine (Anafranil), desipramine (Norpramin), imipramine (Tofranil), or protriptyline (Vivactil); a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) such as isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), or tranylcypromine (Parnate); another oral or inhaled bronchodilator; or

    caffeine, diet pills, or decongestants.

    You may not be able to take terbutaline, or you may require a dosage adjustment or special monitoring during treatment if you are taking any of the medications listed above.

    Drugs other than those listed here may also interact with terbutaline or affect your condition. Talk to your doctor and pharmacist before taking any prescription or over-the-counter medicines, including vitamins, minerals, and herbal products.

    Where can I get more information? Your pharmacist has additional information about terbutaline written for health professionals that you may read. What does my medication look like? Terbutaline is available with a prescription under the brand name Brethine. Other brand or generic formulations may also be available. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about this medication, especially if it is new to you.

    Brethine 2.5 mg-white, oval tablets

    Brethine 5 mg-white, round tablets

    Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

    This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Terbutaline". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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