Advances in metered dose inhaler technology: Hardware development

Stephen W. Stein, Poonam Sheth, P. David Hodson, Paul B. Myrdal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Pressurized metered dose inhalers (MDIs) were first introduced in the 1950s and they are currently widely prescribed as portable systems to treat pulmonary conditions. MDIs consist of a formulation containing dissolved or suspended drug and hardware needed to contain the formulation and enable efficient and consistent dose delivery to the patient. The device hardware includes a canister that is appropriately sized to contain sufficient formulation for the required number of doses, a metering valve capable of delivering a consistent amount of drug with each dose delivered, an actuator mouthpiece that atomizes the formulation and serves as a conduit to deliver the aerosol to the patient, and often an indicating mechanism that provides information to the patient on the number of doses remaining. This review focuses on the current state-of-the-art of MDI hardware and includes discussion of enhancements made to the device's core subsystems. In addition, technologies that aid the correct use of MDIs will be discussed. These include spacers, valved holding chambers, and breath-actuated devices. Many of the improvements discussed in this article increase the ability of MDI systems to meet regulatory specifications. Innovations that enhance the functionality of MDIs continue to be balanced by the fact that a key advantage of MDI systems is their low cost per dose. The expansion of the health care market in developing countries and the increased focus on health care costs in many developed countries will ensure that MDIs remain a cost-effective crucial delivery system for treating pulmonary conditions for many years to come.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)326-338
Number of pages13
JournalAAPS PharmSciTech
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • actuator
  • add-on devices
  • canister
  • dose counters
  • metering valve

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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