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Asthma inhalers going green

Posted September 19, 2008

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— The rescue inhaler, a lifeline for asthma sufferers is undergoing a change.

The propellant that pushes medicine into constricted lungs via more than 50 million prescriptions a year is going green.

During an an asthma attack, the lungs become inflamed and breathing becomes difficult. Sufferers inhale albuterol to relax and open their airways.

That medicine is pushed into the lungs via a propellant. Inhalers have long used CFCs, or chlorofluorocarbons.

CFCs have come under fire for the damage they might cause to the ozone layer. The federal government has phased out their use in other consumer products.

"The propellant is changing to a more environmentally-friendly propellant," said Dr. Cliff Bassett with the NYU Medical Center. "Albuterol is the bronchodilator. It's not going anywhere. It's the same drug, the same effect," said Dr. Bassett.

The new inhalers use HFA, or hydroflouroalkane, to push the medicine into the lungs.

The change in ingredients brings another change for users. Unlike the old inhalers, the new ones need to be cleaned regularly to avoid clogging.

Rochelle Doctor has tried the new inhaler. She noted that while the spray is not as forceful, it works.

It also tastes slightly different. "It's not a bad taste. It's just a slight medicine taste," said Doctor.

Experts say the bottom line is that the new inhalers are just as effective as the old ones at stopping an asthma attack.

The HFA inhalers are now on the market and most manufacturers have already made the switch. Some patients may already have the new inhaler and not know it.

7 Comments

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  • Pineview Style Sep 22, 2008

    "What they failed to mention are the cost increases for the new inhalers, and the fact that they only account for an extremely tiny percentage of the CFCs released. So, in the name of "going green", people with asthma will have to pay anywhere from two to ten times as much for their new inhalers."
    -fletchermse

    Have no fear! Your friendly politician will tell you that this won't be an issue under government controlled healthcare....

  • fletchermse Sep 22, 2008

    What they failed to mention are the cost increases for the new inhalers, and the fact that they only account for an extremely tiny percentage of the CFCs released. So, in the name of "going green", people with asthma will have to pay anywhere from two to ten times as much for their new inhalers.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Sep 22, 2008

    hywilson, do you not see the link between the environment and your health? I thought that asthma sufferers were MUCH more in tune with the HUGE air pollution problems in the U.S. and especially the Triangle. Even my close conservative friend who has asthma acknowledges the fossil fuel/air pollution issue. Can you imagine if cars still used leaded fuel and didn't have pollution control devices?...or coal burners didn't have scrubbers? You'd be the boy in the bubble. ;-)

  • hywilson Sep 22, 2008

    I just got the new inhaler and it cost me $25 for th HFA, the old one cast me $4. I dont care about the environment nearly as much as my health and what it cost.

  • Question Sep 19, 2008

    Wow--my sons have been using Flovent HFA and Ventolin HFA for over a year and no troubles at all. The best thing is that they both have dose counters--no more guessing how many doses are left.

  • JessGH Sep 19, 2008

    They neglected to mention the increase in price for these inhalers, too. Depending on your insurance, it may be a BIG surprise for people!

  • BlowupDollWithChatAmbitions Sep 19, 2008

    My son already received one of these inhalers and they do not work as well as the previous ones for him. His asthma is so severe that he hads been tested for cystic fibrosis numerous times in the past. Hopefully they will come up with something better, and soon...before many more have the same problems with these new inhalers.