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ADVANCE Perspective: Respiratory Views

4 CFC Inhalers To Be Discontinued This Year

Published May 14, 2010 10:37 AM by Vern Enge

Four of seven currently available asthma and COPD metered-dose inhalers that use chlorofluorocarbons (CDCs) as propellants are due to be phased out by the end of the year. The remaining three will be phased out by the end of 2013.

Phase-out of CFC-containing MDIs became possible because alternatives are now available. The seven MDIs being discontinued represent the last remaining commercial use of CFCs in developed countries and enjoyed only a temporary reprieve until those alternatives could be introduced.

Last month, the FDA issued a final ruling on the removal dates for the seven remaining MDIs. The replacements will be driven by hydrofluoroalkanes (HFAs), which have not gained favor among some users.

Disgruntled users say the new products don't work as well.

Two of the MDIs-nedocromil (Tilade Inhaler) and metaproterenol (Alupent Inhalation Aerosol)-are due to be discontinued by June 14. The other two-triamcinolone (Azmacort Inhalation Aerosol) and cromolyn (Intal Inhaler)-will be phased out by Dec. 31.

Flunisolide (Aerobid Inhaler System) will be phased out by June 30, 2011; albuterol and ipratropium in combination (Combivent Inhalation Aerosol) and pirbuterol  (Maxair Autohaler) will be phased out  by Dec. 31, 2013.

While CFCs are safe as propellants in drugs, they are harmful to the earth's ozone layer.

Phase-out of the CFC-containing MDIs was originally ordained in 1996 after a year of analysis and discussions by the United Nations Environment Program.

The American Lung Association in a recent press release encouraged asthmatics and COPDers who use the soon-to-be discontinued inhalers to discuss a switch to alternatives with their health care professions.

Until they get prescriptions for the alternatives, patients should continue using their current inhaler medication, the ALA advised. Officials of that organization want to ensure patients have access to safe and effective alternative medications.

As therapists already know, CFCs deplete the ozone layers miles above the Earth. Among other things, depletion of the ozone layer causes skin cancer and cataracts and disrupts the human immune system.

posted by Vern Enge

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