Terbutaline, chemical formula C12H19NO3 (sold under the brand name Bricanyl among others), is a β2 adrenergic receptor agonist, used as a "reliever" inhaler in the management of asthma symptoms and as a tocolytic (anti-contraction medication) to delay preterm labor for up to 48 hours. This time can then be used to administer steroid injections to the mother which help fetal lung maturity and reduce complications of prematurity. It should not be used to prevent preterm labor or delay labor more than 48–72 hours. In February 2011, the Food and Drug Administration began requiring a black box warning on the drug's label. Pregnant women should not be given injections of the drug terbutaline for the prevention of preterm labor or for long-term (beyond 48–72 hours) management of preterm labor, and should not be given oral terbutaline for any type of prevention or treatment of preterm labor "due to the potential for serious internal heart problems and death."
It was patented in 1966 and came into medical use in 1970.
Terbutaline is used as a fast-acting bronchodilator (often used as a short-term asthma treatment) and as a tocolytic to delay premature labor. The inhaled form of terbutaline starts working within 15 minutes and can last up to 6 hours.
Terbutaline as a treatment for premature labor is an off-label use not approved by the FDA. It is a pregnancy category C medication and is routinely prescribed to stop contractions. After successful intravenous tocolysis, little evidence exists that oral terbutaline is effective. However, following uterine inversion in the third stage of labor, terbutaline (or either Halothane or magnesium sulfate) can be used to relax the uterus if necessary prior to uterine replacement.
Applications in the series
The chemical was used during Syphon Filter 3's flashbacks, specifically, it was integral in Teresa Lipan's expedition to the Paradise Ridge, where she used an injection to stop Debbie Oakton from experiencing labour. This was essential to the mother's survival, for the compound was being assaulted by Commander Silvers, who ordered his men to terminate anybody they came across with complete impunity.