As of December 31, 2008, you will not longer be able to purchase chlorofluorocarbons propelled albuterol inhalers as a result of the Clean Air Act and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. This type of product is used to treat people who suffer from bronchospams (wheezing) from asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
“Although chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in medicines are safe for patients to inhale, they are harmful to the environment. CFCs reduce the amount of ozone in the ozone layer that surrounds the earth and protects the earth against the sun’s harmful rays. The loss of ozone can increase the risk of skin cancer, cataracts, and otherhealth problems. Replacing the CFCs in your metereddoseinhaler with another substance, called HFA, will make the environment safer for everyone,” according to the FDA.
The FDA is urging people to switch to hydrofluoroalkane (HFA)-propelled albuterol inhalers, in which three products have been approved: Proair HFA Inhalation Aerosol, Proventil HFA Inhalation Aerosol, and Ventolin HFA Inhalation Aerosol.
In addition, to the ones listed above, an HFA-propelled inhaler containing levalbuterol, a medicine similar to albuterol, has also been approved and is available as Xopenex HFA Inhalation Aerosol.
The agency forewarns that the use of the new inhalers will be different than that of the old CFC-propelled inhalers since the spray will be softer and the taste may be different. In addition, patients must prime and clean these new HFA- propelled albuterol inhalers to prevent any build up of the drug in the inhaleration device.
The American Lung Association advises that patients should switch to the new HFA-propelled inhalers now to see which one works best for them prior to the deadline. You will need your doctor to write a new prescription for these inhalers.
According to American Lung Association, there may be a significant different in price between the new and old inhalers especially if you are using a generic inhaler. The HFA inhaler costs $30 to $60; whereas, the generic inhaler costs $5 to $25.
“Depending on your insurance, these new inhalers may be more expensive, but our hope is that as more people move to the CFC-free delivery method that the price will come down,” says Norman H. Edelman, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of the American Lung Association,” as stated in an Associations’ written article.
If you have questions as to the transition from one inhaler to another or need assistance in paying for your prescription, you can call the American Lung Association Helpline at 1-800-LUNG-USA, and press “2” to speak to a nurse or respiratory therapist. They may even have a coupon to help you pay for the new inhalers.
So, with these new inhalers, your puff will not only be good for you, but Mother Earth’s lungs as well.
Photo by permission of KellyK
FDA Advises Patients to Switch to HFA-Propelled Albuterol Inhalers Now, FDA News, May 30, 2008 (accessed July 17, 2008).
CFC-Free Inhalers: Time to Make the Switch, American Lung Association (accessed July 17, 2008).