Asthma Inhalers in US Must go "Green" by 2009
All asthma inhalers in the US must use hydroflouroalkane (HFA), a "greener" and more earth-friendly chemical compared to the old chemical, chloroflourocarbon (CFC) which damages the earth's ozone layer. Old inhalers will not be available after December 31, 2008.
The new inhalers, while better for the environment, aren't so easy on the pocketbook - priced significantly higher than the old inhalers between $30 and $60, compared to $5 or $10 for the CFC puffers.
Patients and parents of asthmatic children are incredibly confused about the efficacy of this new product, and why the change is taking place to begin with:
And patients face a learning curve. HFA inhalers must be used differently than the old-fashioned kind. The medicine feels and tastes different, sometimes alarming new users despite doctors' assurances that it works just as well.
"There's still significant confusion," says Dr. Harvey Leo of the University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital. "Patients will tell you, 'I don't feel the puff anymore.'"
Calls from parents unsure how to use the new inhalers, or even what they are, have increased in the past two months as more drugstores run out of CFC-powered inhalers and automatically switch people who'd been expecting a mere refill, he adds.
The FDA has warned for years that the change was coming, but many asthma patients do not see a physician regularly and thus may not have heard of the impending switch.