Asthma Society of Ireland statement on montelukast

12 Apr 2024

We, like many of you, have been following recent stories on news outlets and social media about montelukast (singulair) and its potential side effects. We understand that these stories can be concerning for anybody whose child has been prescribed this medication to control their asthma.

It is important to be aware of potential, uncommon behavioural and mental health/mood disturbances that have been known to occur in a small number of patients on montelukast (known to occur in adults, adolescents and children), and which are highlighted in the patient information leaflet found in the packaging for this medication.

"While we wholly understand the concerns about the recent coverage of montelukast and its potential side effects in children, we urge parents not to make sudden changes to their child’s medication without first consulting their doctor. Doctors are best placed to advise parents on medication and their side effects and can support you and your child to manage their asthma more effectively and safely.” Dr Marcus Butler, Medical Director - Asthma Society of Ireland

Side effects can include agitation and aggressive behaviour or hostility and depression. Very rare instances (up to 1 in 10,000 people) of hallucinations, disorientation, suicidal thoughts and self-harm actions have been reported to authorities. Whilst montelukast has been known to cause or exacerbate mental health issues in some children, it should be noted that every child responds to medication uniquely and, for many, montelukast remains an extremely important and powerful tool in improving asthma control.

For some patients with asthma, montelukast uniquely treats abnormalities in the lung windpipes that other asthma medications haven’t helped (there are other asthma patients who get no benefit from montelukast).  It can improve children’s quality of life greatly and reduce the need for oral steroids and even hospitalisation.

If you are concerned about your child’s medication or have questions about side effects, you should speak to your child’s doctor about potential alternatives.

It is extremely important to speak to your child’s doctor before changing or discontinuing asthma medications, as there can be unintended consequences to stopping montelukast, such as an asthma attack.

The Asthma Society of Ireland operates a free Adviceline and WhatsApp messaging service for people with asthma and their carers. This service operates 9am-5pm Monday-Friday and allows you to receive support from our team of expert nurses.

  • Asthma Adviceline: 1800 44 54 64
  • WhatsApp message: 086 059 0132