FDA phases out inhaler due to environmental impact

By MATTHEW PERRONE , AP Health Writer

(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 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 , 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 , 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 , 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.

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Jesse_EngAmer
not rated yet Sep 23, 2011
This wouldn't be the first time the FDA's priorities didn't align with the American publics. More and more the FDA seems to exist solely to serve big pharma. Remember Vioxx? Just look up Dr. Graham, FDA official turned whistleblower. He went public after the FDA fired him for exposing the dangers of Vioxx. He was told by his boss that the public was not the FDAs client. Industry was. http://www.youtub...Axocz1X4

1-2 Million people are going be forced to switch medication. Not only do not all medications work for everybody but as the article states not every will be able to afford the switch. Where have the FDA's priorities and values gone?