60 Years of the MDI – A History of Innovation

Alex Slowey, Steve Stein


2016 marks the 60th anniversary of the launch of the pressurised metered dose inhaler (MDI). In April of 1955, a young girl named Susie Maison, unhappy with her squeeze bulb nebulizer that she used to treat her asthma, asked her father, George Maison, MD., President of Riker Laboratories, the question, “Daddy, why can’t they put my asthma medicine in a spray-can like they do hair spray?” This simple question led to a serendipitous convergence of circumstances that resulted in the development of an important new therapy, the MDI.

On January 12, 1956 New Drug Applications were filed for Medihaler Epi (containing epinephrine) and Medihaler Iso (containing isoproterenol). With the approval of Medihaler Epi, and Medihaler Iso on March 9, 1956, both products were launched that same month.

Since its introduction, the MDI has developed to include breath-actuation to ensure better patient co-ordination, reformulation following the link between CFC’s and ozone layer depletion. More recently, with the expiration of relevant patents, the generics market has been opened, allowing more cost effective products to be launched.

The introduction of high-tech inhalers with enhanced capabilities offers a number of benefits from both a compliance and patient outcome point of view.

The MDI has developed significantly since its introduction in 1956. Over the 60 years since its launch, the MDI has continued to evolve. Today and into the future, as an established dosage form, it remains a major platform in the delivery of drug to the lungs.

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