Sunday, June 01, 2008

FDA: Time for asthma patients to switch inhalers

The following article from Yahoo News and The Associated Press.

FDA: Time for asthma patients to switch inhalers

Fri May 30, 8:16 PM ET

Old-fashioned asthma inhalers that contain environment-harming chemicals will no longer be sold at year's end — and the government is urging patients not to wait until the last minute to switch to newer alternatives.

Patients use inhalers to dispense airway-relaxing albuterol during asthma attacks.

Chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, once were widely used to propel the drug into the lungs. But CFC-containing consumer products are being phased out because CFCs damage the Earth's protective ozone layer. As of Dec. 31, asthma inhalers with CFCs can no longer be made or sold in the U.S. Inhalers instead will be powered by ozone-friendly HFAs, or hydrofluoroalkanes.

The ozone layer shields the planet from harmful ultraviolet radiation.

Patients have been warned of the change for several years, but the Food and Drug Administration issued an advisory Friday saying anyone still using CFC inhalers should ask their doctor about switching now.

The FDA warns that patients will face a learning curve: HFA inhalers may taste and feel different. The spray may feel softer. Each must be primed and cleaned in a specific way to prevent clogs. And they tend to cost more.

CFC-free albuterol inhaler options include GlaxoSmithKline's Ventolin HFA, Schering Plough's Proventil HFA and Teva Specialty Pharmaceuticals' ProAir HFA. Sepracor's Xopenex HFA is also CFC-free, but it contains levalbuterol, a similar medication.
The FDA said Armstrong Pharmaceuticals is the sole remaining maker of CFC inhalers and is expected to stop production even before the deadline. A spokesman for Armstrong's parent company wouldn't say when production would stop, but sales of remaining inventory will continue until Dec. 31.

Asthma is a disease that can go from mild to life threatening quickly. As in life and politics, there is good change and bad change. Nonetheless, this change is happening. For anyone using the old non-HFA albuterol preparations, you should watch your symptoms closely. Hopefully you will not notice any change in effectiveness, but if you do, you should contact your physician for instructions.

Steven Horvitz, D.O.
Founder of The Institute for Medical Wellness

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1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1:48 PM

    Some folks are having some major problems with the new HFA inhalers.

    Read the thousands of complaints:

    This particular petition has 4000 signatures and is growing everyday. There are also many complaints at consumer affairs:

    More complaints:

    If you are unhappy with the new HFA inhalers, kindly sign the petition to save CFC inhalers.