Since equivalent efficacy is achieved with lower doses of the reformulated beclomethasone dipropionate in the chlorofluorocarbon (CFC)-free propellant HFA-134a (HFA) than with the original CFC-beclomethasone dipropionate formulation, it is possible the HFA-beclomethasone dipropionate may have less safety concerns than the CFC formulation. Despite its chronic use, the steady-state pharmacokinetics of beclomethasone dipropionate has never been studied before. This double-blind study examined adrenal effects and pharmacokinetics after 14 days of dosing with HFA-beclomethasone dipropionate.

Forty-three steroid-naïve asthmatic patients were randomised into 5 parallel groups and dosed every 12 h for 14 days with: HFA-placebo; 200, 400 or 800 μg day-1 HFA-beclomethasone dipropionate; or 800 μg day-1 CFC-beclomethasone dipropionate. After two weeks of dosing, the 24-h urinary free cortisol of all but one patient remained within the normal range, showing that all doses were well tolerated from a systemic safety perspective. The active HFA-beclomethasone dipropionate treatment groups showed a dose-related fall in 24-h urinary free cortisol. Total-beclomethasone (beclomethasone dipropionate and metabolites) pharmacokinetics after either the first dose of HFA-beclomethasone dipropionate or CFC-beclomethasone dipropionate were not substantially affected by subsequent doses. The extent of drug absorption from 800 μg day-1 HFA-beclomethasone dipropionate and CFC-beclomethasone dipropionate was in the ratio of 1–7: 1. A non-linear correlation between 24-h urinary free cortisol and the pharmacokinetic parameters was observed, reflecting smaller changes in 24-h urinary free cortisol than in pharmacokinetics as the dose was increased.

No clinically meaningful change in the pharmacokinetics of beclomethasone dipropionate plus metabolites was seen on multiple dosing. The greater systemic availability of HFA-beclomethasone dipropionate was still associated with adrenal effects comparable with that of the CFC formulation at the same dose.