The breath-actuated mechanism (BAM) is a mechanical unit included in NEXThaler® with the role of delaying the emission of the drug until the inhalation flow rate of the patient is sufficiently high to detach the drug particles from their carriers.
The main objective of this work was to analyse the effect of the presence of BAM on the size distribution of the emitted drug and its airway deposition efficiency and distribution. Study of the hygroscopic growth of the emitted drug particles and its effect on the deposition was another goal of this study.
Size distributions of Foster® NEXThaler® drug particles emitted by dry powder inhalers with and without BAM have been measured by a Next Generation Impactor. Three characteristic inhalation profiles of asthmatic patients (low, moderate and high flow rates) were used for both experimental and modelling purposes. Particle hygroscopic growth was determined by a new method, where experimental measurements are combined with simulations. Upper airway and lung deposition fractions were computed assuming 5 s and 10 s breath-hold times.
By the inclusion of BAM the fine particle fraction of the steroid component increased from 24 to 30% to 47–51%, while that of bronchodilator from 25–34% to 52–55%. The predicted upper airway steroid and bronchodilator doses decreased from about 60% to 35–40% due to BAM. At the same time, predicted lung doses increased from about 20%–35% (steroid) and from 22% to 38% (bronchodilator) for the moderate flow profile and from about 25% to 40% (steroid) and from 29% to 47% (bronchodilator) for the high inhalation flow profile. Although BDP and FF upper airway doses decreased by a factor of about two when BAM was present, lung doses of both components were about the same in the BAM and no-BAM configurations at the weakest flow profile. However, lung dose increased by 2–3% even for this profile when hygroscopic growth was taken into account.
In conclusion, the NEXThaler® BAM mechanism is a unique feature enabling high emitted fine particle fraction and enhanced drug delivery to the lungs.