||AIM: The fixed combination of beclomethasone (BDP) and formoterol pressurized metered dose inhaler (pMDI) (Foster(R), Chiesi Farmaceutici) is being developed in the lower strength (BDP/formoterol: 50/6 mug) to provide an appropriate dosage for children with asthma. The aim of this work was to investigate the systemic bioavailability of beclomethasone-17-monoproprionate (B17MP, the active metabolite of BDP) and formoterol after single inhalation of Foster(R) pMDI 50/6 mug vs. the free combination of BDP and formoterol pMDIs in asthmatic children. METHODS: Children aged 5-11 years old inhaled BDP 200 mug and formoterol 24 mug as fixed vs. free combination in an open label, randomized, two way crossover single dose study. Blood was collected pre-dose up to 8 h post-dose for pharmacokinetic evaluation (AUC(0,t), AUC(0,infinity), AUC(0,0.5 h, Cmax , tmax , t1/2 ). Pharmacodynamics included heart rate, plasma potassium, urinary glucose and cortisol excretion. Peak expiratory flow and adverse events were monitored. RESULTS: Twenty subjects were evaluable. The systemic exposure of B17MP and formoterol administered as fixed combination did not exceed the free combination: B17MP AUC(0,t) (pg ml(-1) h) ratio test : reference (90% CI), 0.81 (0.697, 0.948) and formoterol AUC(0,t) (pg ml(-1) h) ratio test : reference 0.97 (0.85, 1.10). All pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic end points showed non-superiority in favour of the test drug. One adverse event (vertigo) occurred but was not considered treatment-related. CONCLUSION: BDP and formoterol pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic effects are non-superior after administration of the two actives as fixed vs. the free combination in 5-11-year-old asthmatic children.