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Saturday, May 9, 2009

It's time to bring back Susphrine

When I was a kid growing up in the 1970s and 80s doctors would often give me a shot of Susphrine when I was short of breath, and send me home. Now that I'm an RT the medicine isn't even in the physicians desk reference.

In RT School I asked my teachers about this wonderful medicine that saved my life so many times, and they had no clue what it was. A while back I wrote about my experience with Susphrine, and I could hardly find any information about it.

A few days ago, however, a doctor left a comment on the article I wrote (Susphrine: The asthma wonder drug of old) over at MyAsthmaCentral.com that finally gave me some information about this medicine.

The comment was this: .

I have been, (and still am), an ER doc for 21 years. I truly miss Susphrine. I found this story by searching for it to see if anyone still makes it. Yes, the newer drugs are great, but every once in awhile, there is a pt who comes to the ER that doesn't respond to anything but epinephrine. When that happens now, that pt has to be admitted, since epi will wear off in about 3 hours or so. Susphrine (which stood for "sustained epinephrine") was used in these pt's in the past since it would last 6 to 8 hours. By then, the steroids we gave these pt's would "kick in" and prevent the relapse. It is unfortunate that we no longer have Susphrine in our arsenal.

"Also, Susphrine was "sustained epinephrine" because it was epinephrine in an oil base that allowed it to be absorbed slowly.

I was so happy that doctor responded to my article and shared his wisdom. And what he says makes perfect sense too.

I remember going to the ER or doctor's office, and sitting on the bed all frogged up gasping for air. The doc would order Susphrine, and within five minutes I'd be breathing great.

Then he'd order a shot of solumedrol (or whatever steroid was given back then). Although I didn't care about this shot. It didn't give me the relief of the Susphrine. Yet, it was both meds together that allowed the doc to send me home. I know that now.

Thankfully today we have so much better asthma wisdom and so much better medicine to prevent asthma in the first place most kids probably never need Susphrine.

But there are definitely some cases (especially for those hard luck asthmatics out there) where a longer acting epinepherine would come in handy.

Perhaps it's time to bring Susphrine back again.

5 comments:

Trauma Junkie said...

I remember learning about Susphrine, Bronkosol, and a few other "outdated" drugs in school. We didn't cover much on them, except how they worked.

I'm curious though, is Susphrine any different in its mechanism of action than racemic epi SVN? There's an ER doc at one hospital where I did clinicals that just loved giving epi nebs to patients with severe refractory asthma. It ALWAYS seemed to work.

Trauma Junkie said...

.I remember learning about Susphrine, Bronkosol, and a few other "outdated" drugs in school. We didn't cover much on them, except how they worked.

I'm curious though, is Susphrine any different in its mechanism of action than racemic epi SVN? There's an ER doc at one hospital where I did clinicals that just loved giving epi nebs to patients with severe refractory asthma. It ALWAYS seemed to work.

dennis r caldwell md said...

i've been a primary care doc over 35 yrs...susphrine was a great drug.it worked to break status and is wasn't broken...why get rid of it... a lot of old things still work,even me. bring it back....

Kate de Silva said...

Susphrine saved my life dozens of times. It got me through severe asthma in high school, college, and in my early years living alone in New York City (with no one to rush me to the emergency room). My father was a physician and ensured I always had a filled prescription stored in my refrigerator. Asthma attacks always seemed to strike in the evening or on weekends, when no doctor was around. I would self-inject, and then see my doctor (usually for prednisone) during business hours. My daughter now has the very same trouble, and has been rushed to ER (once by ambulance) five times in the past two months. Nebulizer treatments do no do much for you when your airways are shut! Bring back susphrine, please.

john bottrell said...

Agreed. It's time to bring back susphrine, at least as an option for emergency room physicians.