Prescribing Advice for GPs

An NHS Prescribing Advisers' Blog

Zafirlukast discontinued

The manufacturer of zafirlukast (Accolate®) has discontinued this product with effect from the end of March 2018. No further supplies are being made and it is predicted that minimal supplies will be available within the supply chain.

Commercial reasons are cited for this decision and it is stressed that there were no safety concerns with this medicine. Zafirlukast is a leukotriene receptor antagonist and as such the closest available alternative is montelukast.

Action: Clinicians should be aware of this product being discontinued. It would be prudent to run clinical system searches to identify any patients who are currently prescribed this product to allow a review and arrangements made to identify a suitable alternative.

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26 Comments to “Zafirlukast discontinued”

  1. I have suffered with asthma and COPD for 25 years and zafirlukast gave me real relief these past 12 years but montelukast has not worked at all. I'm suffering badly and now can't walk or do anything without being breathless. I use my inhalers all the time. My GP prescribed zafirlukast yesterday again so she was not aware this was discontinued. Why have they discontinued this drug as montelukast doesn’t work.

    Comment by Joanne Riley — August 7, 2019 #

    1. @Joanne Riley,

      It was discontinued for commercial reasons, that basically means it was not making enough money to justify continue production.

      Comment by Matthew Robinson — August 7, 2019 #

  2. I just found out that my GP swapped my medicine zafirlukast 20mg for the montelukast 10mg, I didn't realise this until I became short of breath and for the last 2 months I've been on my inhaler (salbutamol) every morning, evening and sometimes half way through the day. So, this Monday I checked the package and realised the medicine I've been getting for the past 6 months is different - I honestly thought it was just a different brand therefore different package/box and that the main ingredient was the same. I couldn't have been more wrong! What shocks me to my core is the fact that they have changed my medication without warning or consulting me. Is there any other medication similar to zafirlukast as montelukast doesn't agree with me reason why I was put on zafirlukast back in 2007.
    Thank you.

    Comment by Elizabete Ventura — April 18, 2019 #

    1. @Elizabete,

      If your medication changed 6 months ago and you've only noticed symptoms in the last 2 months I would not necessarily link this to the change in medication. Also, zafirlukast was to be taken twice daily and montelukast is only taken once daily. You need to check you are taking the correct dose, especially if you thought they were the same thing until recently.

      In answer to your question though, there are only two drugs in this class of medicines (leukotriene receptor antagonists) that have been marketed in the UK. When zafirlukast was discontinued that dropped to one option; and that's montelukast.

      Comment by Matthew Robinson — April 18, 2019 #

  3. Accolate is a hands down winner. Montelukast is not even close in helping my breathing. I too was a long term user with not one severe asthma attack. Absolutely disgusting that with all the money we (Canada) have in our health care system we don’t have enough to insist that the best drug be prescribed and let the other one go away. Haven't been this short of breath for years.

    Comment by Lawrence Parsons — March 19, 2019 #

  4. My GP, chemists and consultant were totally unaware until I researched it and found out it was discontinued. I'm totally disgusted that this can happen with no other alternative for us than to go back on a drug that previously caused bad side effects. I also had to go back on the montelukast and am still getting severe headaches although my asthma is a little better on it rather than on nothing like when I ran out of the zafirlukast. But definitely not as good as when on the zafirlukast, how is it allowed that they can just decide to suddenly discontinue a drug that keeps so many asthmatics stable at the drop of a hat because it doesn't make them enough money? It's unethical and dangerous.

    Comment by Kat — November 13, 2018 #

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