Objective: Methacholine solutions < 0.25 mg/mL must be prepared fresh daily, while concentrations ≥ 0.25 mg/mL must be prepared at 2-week intervals according to US Food and Drug Administration-required labeling. The purpose of this report was to determine whether freezing methacholine solutions in unit-dose syringes would allow less frequent preparation.
Design: Diluent containing 0.5% sodium chloride, 0.275% sodium bicarbonate, and 0.4% phenol was used to prepare 11 concentrations of methacholine ranging from 0.031 to 32.0 mg/mL. Three milliliters of each dilution was placed into 5-mL polypropylene syringes and immediately frozen. Methacholine concentrations were determined using a validated high-performance liquid chromatography assay after preparation (time zero) and at 0.5, 1, 1.5, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 months. On the day of analysis, the samples were allowed to thaw to room temperature. An additional set of each dilution was stored at room temperature for 24 h after thawing and then analyzed for methacholine.
Results: Samples ≥ 0.062 mg/mL analyzed immediately after thawing retained ≥ 90% of labeled potency for at least 6 months, while the 0.031-mg/mL sample retained 90% potency for 4 months. Most samples analyzed 24 h after thawing lost potency.
Conclusion: If prepared and stored in unit-dose syringes frozen, methacholine solutions containing 0.062 to 32.0 mg/mL can be prepared at 6-month intervals, and solutions containing 0.031 mg/mL can be prepared at 4-month intervals. Once thawed, unused methacholine solutions should be discarded.