Medicines & Supplements A to Z > Terbutaline


Last updated on 18/03/2021.

Overview   |   Dosage   |    Side Effects   |   Precautions  |   Tips  |   Where To Buy  

GENERIC NAME: Terbutaline


BRAND NAME(S) IN HONG KONG: Ataline, Bricanyl, Britaline, Butanyl 

DRUG CLASS: Bronchodilator; Beta-2 agonist 

USED FOR: Asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchospasm

OTHER DRUGS IN THE SAME CLASS: Formoterol, Salbutamol, Salmeterol, Indacaterol, Vilanterol

– 2.5mg, 5mg, 7.5mg (tablets)
– 1.5mg/5ml, 3mg/5ml (syrups)
– 0.5mg/ml (injections)

What is Terbutaline for?

Terbutaline is a bronchodilator like Salbutamol which can relax the muscles of the airways and open up the airways in the lungs to make breathing easier. It is most commonly used to treat asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and bronchoconstriction by relieving symptoms of shortness of breath like breathlessness, coughing and wheezing.

How to use it?

Terbutaline can be taken by tablets (Ataline) or inhaled by using a turbuhaler (Bricanyl) or nebuliser (Butanyl). The usual adult doses for different routes are listed below:

Conventional tablets: Take 2.5 to 5 mg 3 times daily.
Sustained release (SR): Take 5 to 7.5 mg 2 times daily.

The maximum oral dose is 15 mg daily. 

Inhalation of powder
Inhale 0.5 mg (as one inhalation) when needed for shortness of breath. If symptoms persist, you can inhale up to 4 times daily.

Inhalation of nebulised solution
Inhale 5-10 mg 2-4 times daily when needed for shortness of breath.

What are the side effects of Terbutaline? 

Common side effects of Terbutaline include dizziness, headache, fast heart rate, anxiety, and tremor. Low potassium level may be observed with high doses.

Who should not take Terbutaline?

Anyone who has an allergy to Terbutaline or any of the formulation components.

Pharmacist Tips:

Inform your doctor or pharmacist if you notice that you need to use Terbutaline more often to achieve the same level of symptomatic relief.

Common dosing schedule:
Terbutaline is often taken on an as needed basis, but can be used on a regular dosing schedule for acute treatment of bronchospasm. You can take oral Terbutaline with or without food. 

This schedule is for reference only, adjustments may be made according to individual needs.

Some common medications Terbutaline may interact with:
– Non-selective beta blockers, e.g. Propranolol, Timolol, Pindolol
– Tricyclic antidepressants, e.g. Amitriptyline, Doxepin

Please notify your doctor or pharmacist of other concurrent medications you are taking, dosage adjustments might be needed.

Where to buy Terbutaline in Hong Kong?

In Hong Kong, tablets (Ataline) and nebulised Terbutaline (Butanyl) are pharmacy only medicines and can be purchased without a prescription in a pharmacy by speaking with the pharmacist. Other forms of Terbutaline, including the turbuhaler (Bricanyl), are prescription only medicines, and require a prescription from a doctor to be purchased in a pharmacy. Terbutaline can also be obtained from doctors. To find a pharmacy near you, refer to the list of pharmacies (“Authorized Sellers of Poisons”) from the Hong Kong Department of Health.

For more information about drug names and ingredients, you can visit Hong Kong’s Drug Office at

Need more information?

For detailed information about the use of Terbutaline in children, pregnancy and breastfeeding, and for questions about drug interactions, please check with your pharmacist or doctor.

Disclaimer: our goal is to provide you with the most relevant drug information and common dosage for Hong Kong. This information does not constitute medical advice. For specific treatment recommendations and advice, always discuss with your doctor or pharmacist, and follow the instructions included with your specific medicine.