Alcohol in medication

Hi my GPS has just prescribed me a stronger inhaler for my COPD but on reading the ingredients of it (Forsair) I was surprised to see that it contained alcohol. I have cirrhosis due to 30 years of hepatitis C, which I have now cleared. I do not drink alcohol at all but could this alcohol in my inhaler be detrimental to my liver?.I would have thought that my GP who is well aware of my condition wouldn't have prescribed it if it was. Unless she has genuinely overlooked this?. I have repeatedly called the surgery trying to speak to her but as yet no response and an appointment takes weeks at my surgery. Any input would be appreciated. Thank you Ian

9 Replies

  • Yeah that's what I was thinking as well, that's exactly what it contains, a trace of ethanol. I have reverted back to my old one just incase and have enough of it to last me until my appointment which I have just made. Thanks for the quick response. Ian

  • Might be worth running this by a dispensing pharmacist as they have all the knowledge on these things and contraindications - I had a read on line and no mention made of any issue with liver and this medication.

    As it's an inhaler I am guessing (& it is a guess) the actual medication which will be a powder is suspended in an alcohol solution (same with the CS canisters the police use, CS being a powder but to allow it to flow it is suspended in alcohol & actually also most aerosol deodrants etc.). I very much doubt you are getting any alcohol intake with each puff but go and get it checked with your doctor or pharmacist.


  • Yeah thanks for the quick reply and I will see my doctor at the appointment I made. I know that it has no effect on the liver but it is the cirrhosis that I am concerned about. Once again thank you Ian

  • Hello there,

    You're right to be cautious when it comes to caring for your liver alongside treatments of other conditions.

    Have a look at the leaflet enclosed with the medication or view the emc medicines website. That's a trusted site for medicine information. You could always email the manufacturer. The email address is on emc.


  • Yeah thanks for the info I will have a look at the site and see if it can throw any light on the matter. Cheers Ian

  • hi ian, i dont know if this will answer your actual question but its good to read how drugs are metabolised by the liver and some even become stronger after they are taken. hope its some help.Drugs in the Body

    Medicines can enter the body in many different ways, including through an inhaler, a skin patch, a pill or a hypodermic needle. As drugs make their way through the body, many steps happen along the way. Understanding how medicines work in your body can help you learn why it is important to use medicines safely and effectively. In this section on taking medicines, we’ll focus on medicines you take by mouth, since those are the most common.

    Entering and Circulating in the Body

    i read this and it spoke of inhalers also. you could google it to see more, i was quite shocked to read what it said about codeine as im on that and have had hep b and hep c and have been told i have a fatty liver and grossly fibrotic liver too. i hope this is some help even in other areas to you. love grace xoxoxo

    When you take medicines by mouth, they move through the digestive tract and are taken up by internal organs like the stomach and small intestine. Often, they are then sent to the liver, where they might be chemically altered. Finally, they are released into the bloodstream.

    As the bloodstream carries medicines throughout the body, the drugs can interact with many tissues and organs. Side effects can occur if a drug has unintended effects anywhere in the body.

    Drug Metabolism

    Just as it does with food, the body tries to chemically break down medicines as soon as they enter the body. Most drugs taken by mouth enter the stomach or small intestine and then are sent to the liver.

    The liver contains protein molecules called enzymes that chemically modify drugs and other non-food substances. The chemical alteration of a medicine by the body is called drug metabolism.

    Often, when a drug is metabolized by the body, it is converted into products called metabolites. Usually, these metabolites are not as strong as the original drug. But in some cases, they can have effects that are stronger than the original drug. For example, codeine in the prescription pain killer Tylenol#3 becomes fully active only after the medicine is metabolized in the liver.

    Because most drugs and other “foreign” substances are broken down in the liver, scientists refer to the liver as a "detoxifying" organ. As such, the liver can be prone to damage caused by too much medicine in the body.

    Drug metabolites often return to the liver and are chemically altered once again before they exit the body.

    Exiting the Body

    After a drug’s metabolites have circulated in the bloodstream, where they work as medicine, the body eliminates them the same way it eliminates other wastes—in the urine or feces. Age-related changes in kidney function can have significant effects on how fast a drug is eliminated from the body.

  • Hi Grace, many thanks for the information regarding medication and the liver. I have looked up the manufacturers literature etc and found parts appertaining to the liver, but unfortunately nothing that encompasses cirrhosis or fibrosis of the liver. I have made the appointment for my doctor's,and luckily managed to get one in only a weeks time, and believe me that is a result for my particular surgery. As you know I am also awaiting the results for my Hepatitis B status(reactivation!!!!). I had to go back to the hospital for to give them more bloodwork as they said that the first one that they did was inconclusive!!. Whatever that may mean, unfortunately I did find out that the antibody I carry is the one that can be reactivated🤔.😥. But then everyone that contracted Hepatitis B in the past will have this particular antibody, and only people that were immunised for it will carry the surface antibody that can't be reactivated. I have the core antibody. Anyway Grace I went off on a tangent there. As usual it was lovely to hear from you, love Ian xx

  • i hope all goes well for you ian, godless you.xoxoxo 🤗 i nearly forgot to send you a big hug. but i'v remembered.

  • Thanks Grace, and a big hug straight back at you


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