Generic Asthma Quick-Relief Inhalers Disappearing

  • Are you currently using an albuterol metered dose inhaler (MDI) as your quick relief or rescue inhaler? If so, expect your treatment plan to change by the end of this year.


    Two years ago the US Food & Drug Administration passed a rule that requires a phase-out of all asthma inhalers that use a substance called chlorofluorocarbons (CFC for short) to propel asthma medicine into your lungs. CFCs are harmful to the environment... they deplete the ozone layer. This phase-out must be complete by the end of this year.


    The good news is, at least two new types of asthma inhalers are already on the market, with more likely planned before year end. The new inhalers propel the medicine into your lungs by means of a chemical called hydrofluroalkane, or HFA for short. HFA is not harmful to the ozone layer.

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    The bad news is, the new inhalers cost a lot more money. And they're only a replacement for prescription albuterol inhalers. If you use an over-the-counter inhaler like Primatene Mist, you won't be able to find a replacement for at least a couple more years.


    So, for people like me who have no health insurance, we could end up paying a lot more to stay healthy... if we can afford it at all.


    The new inhalers also work a bit differently. They tend to have a less forceful, broader spray. The medicine may also taste a little different and won't feel as cold in your airways as the spray from CFC inhalers does.


    Bottom line: Start talking to your doctor now about your options for asthma treatment in the future. If you need financial help to pay for the new, more expensive inhalers, there may be assistance programs available.

Published On: April 02, 2007