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NZ Formulary

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Colistimethate (for inhalation)


What does it do?

Colistimethate is used to treat bacterial infections in your lungs.

How should you use it?

Inhale colistimethate as directed, using your nebuliser.
Mix colistimethate with 0.9% sodium chloride (saline) immediately before use. Any unused solution should be discarded – do not store for future use.

What if you forget a dose?

Inhale the missed dose as soon as possible. If it is close to the time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and carry on as normal. Do not take two doses at the same time.

Can you take other medicines?

Tell your pharmacist or doctor about all medicines or treatments that you may be taking, including vitamins, herbal products or recreational drugs.

What side effects might you notice?

Side EffectsRecommended action

Increased trouble breathing

Tell your doctor immediately

Tingling or numbness, weakness


Cough, unpleasant taste, sore throat, voice changes

Tell your doctor if troublesome

If you notice any other effects, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.

Other information:

  • Tell your doctor if you have kidney problems or a chronic muscle condition (e.g. myasthenia gravis).
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.
  • Colistimethate can impair your ability to do tasks such as driving or using machines. Alcohol makes this worse. Discuss your risk with your health professional. (search NZTA - Are you safe to drive?)
  • Inhaled colistimethate can sometimes make breathing worse. If this occurs, your doctor may give you a ‘reliever’ medicine (e.g. salbutamol, ipratropium) to use immediately before colistimethate.
  • Do not save partly used colistimethate vials - use once and then discard.

This leaflet contains important, but not all, information about this medicine.

Prepared by the PILs Committee at Christchurch Hospital, Canterbury District Health Board, New Zealand. January 2020

For more general information about this sheet and its contents, see: What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

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About My Medicines

My Medicines Patient Information Leaflets (PILs) contain important, but not all, information about the medicines they describe.

For more information about the sheets, see: What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

My Medicines is developed by a team at the Canterbury District Health Board. Our team is made up of doctors, pharmacists, and a non-medical person to help us keep to plain language. We also discuss our information with specialist health professionals or groups when needed