Theophylline and roflumilast are PDE inhibitors. That means they belong to the phosphodiesterase inhibitor family. Medicines like these have been used as bronchodilators for over 100 years. (Bronchodilators help you breathe better by opening up your airways. Using them makes it easier to get air in and out of your lungs. That can help you feel less short of breath.)

How PDE inhibitors work

These pills block the production of an enzyme called phosphodiesterase. Blocking this enzyme causes changes at the cellular level. And, these changes relax your airways.

High levels of theophylline can produce severe side effects, including seizure and death. Therefore, doctors don’t prescribe it as often as they used to. They can prescribe roflumilast, a┬ánewer, safer drug that decreases flare-ups.

Possible side effects of theophylline:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Shakiness
  • Sleeplessness

Possible side effects of roflumilast:

  • GI distress
  • Weight loss
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Trouble sleeping


Learn more and live better with Alpha-1

Would you like to learn more about medicines for Alpha-1 lung disease? Then, check out the BFRG for a complete list of drugs. You’ll also find information about lifestyle changes you can make to improve breathing.