Asthmatics must switch to costlier 'green' inhalers

2011-09-23T00:00:00Z Asthmatics must switch to costlier 'green' inhalersThe Associated Press The Associated Press
September 23, 2011 12:00 am  • 

Asthma patients who rely on over-the-counter inhalers will need to switch to prescription-only alternatives as part of the federal government's latest attempt to protect the atmosphere.

The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday that patients who use the epinephrine inhalers to treat mild asthma will need to switch by Dec. 31 to other types that do not contain chlorofluorocarbons, an aerosol once found in a variety of spray products.

The action is part of an agreement signed by the U.S. and other nations to stop using substances that deplete the ozone layer, a region in the atmosphere that helps block harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun.

But the switch to a greener inhaler will cost consumers.

Epinephrine inhalers are available via online retailers for around $20, whereas alternatives, which contain the drug albuterol, range from $30 to $60.

The FDA finalized plans to phase out the products in 2008, and currently only Armstrong Pharmaceutical's Primatene mist is available in the U.S. Other manufacturers have switched to an environmentally friendly propellant called hydrofluoroalkane.

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