Friday, September 5, 2008

Important Legal Changes that Asthma and COPD Patients Need to Know

If you use an inhaler to treat your asthma, emphysema, or bronchitis, make sure you talk to your doctor about the recent legal changes in inhalers.

On May 30, 2008, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notified the medical community to change the types of inhalers used to treat asthma. This change is being done to end the use of chlorfluorocarbons (CFCs) as a propellent. CFCs have been used in products like hairspray and asthma inhalers to propel out the product chemicals. In the case of asthma inhalers, the propelled product is usually the drugs albuterol or levalbuterol. However, CFCs have long been known to deplete our planet's ozone layer and contribute to environmental hazards.

As of January 1, 2009, CFC-containing asthma inhalers will be illegal for sale, manufacture or distribution in the US. In place of CFCs, inhalers will use hydrofluoroalkane (HFA). Inhaler manufacturers are working to ensure that HFA-containing inhalers will be available to fill the demand.

You should talk to your doctor now to start using an HFA-containing inhaler instead of a CFC-containing inhaler. This will get you familiar with using and caring for the inhaler. You may find that the HFA-containing inhaler has a different look, feel, and taste than the CFC-containing one you are used to. However, the HFA is just as medically safe and effective as the CFC was in providing the needed medication, without the environmental cost.

I recommend not waiting until the end of the year to switch. Better to change now and have a longer time to get used to the new HFA-containing inhaler. Next year, it will be your only option in the US.

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