FDA: Over-the-counter asthma inhalers will be phased out by year end

Consumer Reports News: September 22, 2011 03:08 PM

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced today that Primatene Mist and other inhalers won't be available next year as over-the-counter (OTC) treatment options for asthma sufferers. The culprit: CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) used to dispense the epinephrine drugs have been banned by global agreement.

The FDA says that without OTC treatment options, consumers with asthma will need to turn to pricier prescription drugs. In our Last gasp for Primatene Mist report in June, Consumer Reports health experts note that such drugs cost about $20 for half an ounce or roughly 270 puffs.

Drug companies such as Armstrong Pharmaceuticals, makers of Primatene Mist, are said to be working on eco-friendly, CFC-free asthma inhalers. But such medicines will still need to be approved by the FDA before they can be sold over-the-counter and without a doctor's script.

The FDA and health experts advise asthma suffers to work with their health care professionals to determine treatment options. And if prescription drugs are the only option, Consumer Reports says it doesn't necessarily have to be a costly choice. Some consumers might find some financial aid through organizations such as the Partnership for Prescription Assistance (888-477-2669, www.pparx.org).

Over-the-counter asthma inhalers containing chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) will no longer be made or sold after Dec. 31, 2011 [FDA press release]
End Is Nigh For Over-The-Counter Inhalers That Eat The Ozone Layer [National Public Radio]

Paul Eng

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