Are there steroids in Spiriva?

A fellow caregiver asked...

Are there steroids in Spiriva?

Expert Answer

Pharmacist William Simonson, also known as "Dr. Si", is a board-certified geriatric pharmacist who is dedicated to improving medication use by seniors. He is a pharmacy educator and is active in publishing and presenting to health professional and consumer audiences and has been active in the area of geriatrics and long-term care pharmacy practice for more than 35 years.

No, there are no steroids in Spiriva®. Spiriva contains only one medicine, tiotoprium, which is a long-acting compound that opens up the tubes in the lung by relaxing the smooth muscles found in the respiratory tract.

A number of inhaled medicines including the brand name products Advair® and Flovent® do contain a steroid which reduces inflammation when inhaled into the lungs. Inhaled steroids work directly in the lungs but there is the possibility of experiencing steroid side effects in the body. The side effect that is of greatest concern is reduction of bone strength which can lead to osteoporosis and fracture.

I do want to point out that the types of steroids that are in inhalers are not the same type of steroids that athletes sometime use to get bigger and develop stronger muscles.