People that have asthma and other respiratory ailments have a few days before the last of the inhalers that use ozone-depleting chemical are removed from pharmacy shelves and replaced with new “green” inhalers.
As of January 1, 2009, asthma inhalers containing chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) propellant will no longer be sold, in favor of environmentally safer hydrofluoroalkane (HFA) inhalers.
The new inhalers can cost five times as much as the old ones, because no generic version is available. The average cost of an HFA inhaler is between $30 and $60, whereas the older inhalers were much less expensive at $5 and $25, reports public-health groups.
The old inhalers are being phased out as a result of U.S. participation in the 1987 Montreal Protocol, an international treaty to ban substances that are damaging the earth’s ozone layer. After the agreement was made, drug manufacturers were given an extension to develop “green” inhalers.
Three albuterol inhalers have been approved by the FDA that use the HFA propellant: ProAir, Proventil and Ventolin.
Health experts advise the following:
-- Read and follow directions on the new inhaler. Prime the unit. Slowly breathe in the mist and hold for 10 seconds. The inhaler opening should be rinsed with warm water to prevent clogging.
-- Consider use of a spacer. A plastic chamber attaches to the inhaler and turns the spray into a mist for easy, efficient inhalation.
-- Ask your doctor for discount coupons. Contact manufacturers about free or discounted prices offered to lower-income patients to help with costs.
An estimated 20 million people in the United States suffer from asthma, according to the American Lung Association. About five million of them are children. Many children outgrow asthma in their teen years. Each year, 5000 people die from asthma. #