Glycopyrrolate

Glycopyrrolate is a medicine used as a maintenance treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It is a long-acting muscarinic antagonist (LAMA) that can be inhaled for maintenance treatment of airflow obstruction. It helps to relax muscles around airways in the lungs and to manage symptoms of COPD that make it hard to breathe.

Glycopyrrolate is part of a class of drugs for COPD called anticholinergics. There are long-acting and short-acting anticholinergics. Glycopyrrolate is the long-acting type. Do not exceed the recommended dose.2,4

Glycopyrrolate is a maintenance therapy for COPD and is not used for treating COPD flare-ups that have already started. Rescue inhalers should be used for symptoms that are severe and need rapid relief.2,4

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The medicine is available in two forms under two brand names. Seebri Neohaler and Lonhala Magnair. Seebri Neohaler is an encapsulated powder for oral inhalation. Lonhala Magnair is a solution for oral inhalation using a nebulizer.

What are the active ingredients?

The active ingredient in both Seebri Neohaler and Lonhala Magnair is glycopyrrolate.

How does Glycopyrrolate work?

Glycopyrrolate, like other anticholinergics, helps to treat COPD symptoms by relaxing the muscles that surround the airways. It helps to prevent symptoms such as wheezing, cough, tightness in the chest, and shortness of breath.1,2,3,4 COPD can cause irritation in the lungs that makes the muscles tighten up, which can make breathing symptoms worse.

For most COPD patients, the medicine in glycopyrrolate starts improving lung function within a few minutes. It is not recommended for use as a rescue inhaler.

What are the possible side effects of Glycopyrrolate?

The most common side effects of glycopyrrolate are cough, runny nose, and upper respiratory infection.2,4 This is not an exhaustive list of all potential side effects. Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist for further information.

If you experience extreme breathlessness right after taking glycopyrrolate, stop taking it, and seek medical help immediately. A small number of people have difficulty urinating while taking glycopyrrolate, as it can cause urinary retention especially in men with enlarged prostates.2,4

Things to know about Glycopyrrolate

The active ingredient glycopyrrolate may interact with concomitantly used anticholinergic medications. It’s important to avoid taking Seebri Neohaler and Lonhala Magnair with other anticholinergic-containing drugs. That is why it is important to tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Glycopyrrolate and certain other medicines may adversely interact with each other.1,2,3,4,5

If you experience an immediate hypersensitivity such as severe itching, swelling of the lips, tongue, or face, skin rash or hives, or difficulty breathing or swallowing after taking glycopyrrolate, stop taking it and seek medical help right away.2,4

Glycopyrrolate is not recommended for children, Tell your doctor if you:2,4

  • Have any preexisting kidney, prostate, or bladder problems
  • Are pregnant or planning to become pregnant
  • Are breastfeeding, as it is not known if the medicine in glycopyrrolate enters the breast milk and if it can harm your baby
  • Have eye problems such as glaucoma, as this drug can make glaucoma worse

For people who already have narrow-angle glaucoma, it can cause that condition to get worse. Consult your health care provider if you develop symptoms such as eye pain and discomfort, blurry vision, visual halos, or colored images in association with red eyes from conjunctival congestion and corneal edema.

Glycopyrrolate can cause a life-threatening narrowing of the airways called paradoxical bronchospasm. If this occurs the condition should be treated immediately with an inhaled, short-acting bronchodilator, and glycopyrrolate should be discontinued immediately. In that event, consult your physician about alternative therapy.2,4

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Written by: Linda Saxl Minton | Last reviewed: August 2020.