FDA Phases Out Inhaler Due To Environmental Impact

WASHINGTON (AP) – Asthma patients who rely on over-the-counter inhalers will need to switch to prescription-only alternatives as part of the federal government’s latest attempt to protect the Earth’s atmosphere.

The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday patients who use the epinephrine inhalers to treat mild asthma will need to switch by Dec. 31 to other types that do not contain chlorofluorocarbons, an aerosol substance once found in a variety of spray products.

The action is part of an agreement signed by the U.S. and other nations to stop using substances that deplete the ozone layer, a region in the atmosphere that helps block harmful ultraviolet rays from the Sun.

But the switch to a greener inhaler will cost consumers more. Epinephrine inhalers are available via online retailers for around $20, whereas the alternatives, which contain the drug albuterol, range from $30 to $60.

The FDA finalized plans to phase out the products in 2008 and currently only Armstrong Pharmaceutical’s Primatene mist is available in the U.S. Other manufacturers have switched to an environmentally-friendly propellant called hydrofluoroalkane. Both types of inhalers offer quick-relief to symptoms like shortness of breath and chest tightness, but the environmentally-friendly inhalers are only available via prescription.

“If you rely on an over-the-counter inhaler to relieve your asthma symptoms, it is important that you contact a health care professional to talk about switching to a different medicine to treat your asthma,” said Badrul Chowdhury, FDA’s director of pulmonary drug division.

Chowdhury told reporters and doctors via teleconference that “in the worst case scenario we are looking at 1 to 2 million people using” Primatene, adding that most of those patients likely use multiple medications to treat their asthma.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


One Comment

  1. seriously? says:

    wow. so we can still have nascar, tractor pulls, airshows, etc with all their “emissions”— Were building houses out of old growth wood instead of sustainable materials, which, by the way, also depletes our forests that reduce toxins from the air—- but some poor folks can’t get an alternative to getting an rx because somehow the sky will fall? sounds like an agenda to me…..

  2. Engrpat says:

    This story, like so many, fail to tell the whole story. The EPA several years ago made the inhaler makers change the propellant and ran the cost of albuterol from about $15 per inhaler to over $100. WalMart now sells a generic but it costs over $60 each. There can’t be that many with breathing issues in the US to endanger the environment, just can’t be.

  3. We know what is best for you says:

    Yea, gotta love dem gubment FOOLS…..I mean tools. I am in the A/C business and we were forced to change refrigerants a few years back because the old freon had fluorocarbons in it and it was destroying the ozone layer. NOW with the help of our gubment we use an “Ozone friendly” refrigerant THAT HAS BEEN DETERMINED TO BE MORE DETRIMENTAL TO THE GREEN HOUSE EFFECT (aka: man made global warming, made by men in Washington!). When the gubment gets involved, there is more of an agenda than most people know! I am not saying improvements were not needed, but this is what you get when there is little or no PROVEN science on newer products that are pushed through without REAL help from the industry you are trying to over regulate!

  4. dfwman says:

    I feel so much better now that we have finally discovered the cause of global warming! All of those selfish people out there using their inhalers, destroying the ozone, just so that they can get over an asthma attack! Way to go Al Gore. FIrst the internet, now this!!!

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