ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
Maggots as Good as Gel in Leg Ulcer Treatments
Birds Don't Miss a Beat
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Too Few Screened for Abdominal Aneurysm, Study Says
Resistance Training Boosts Mobility in Knee Arthritis Patients
Gene Plays Key Role in Clubfoot
CANCER
Smokeout '08: The Perfect Time to Quit
Green Tea May Help Prevent Oral Cancer
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
CAREGIVING
U.S. Mental Health Spending Rises, But Many Still Left Out
Health Tip: Benefitting From Adult Day Care
With Age Comes Greater Risk of Hypothermia
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
Vitamins Do Older Women Little Good
Grapefruit-Heavy Diet Helped Spur Dangerous Clot
COSMETIC
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Health Tip: After Liposuction
DENTAL, ORAL
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
DIABETES
Vitamin K Slows Insulin Resistance in Older Men
Whole Grains Take a Bite Out of Type 2 Diabetes Risk
Doctors Urged to Screen Diabetics for Sleep Apnea
DIET, NUTRITION
Vinegar Might Help Keep Off Pounds
Is Coffee Good or Bad for Your Health?
Just Say No to Nuts During Pregnancy
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Pollution Particles Impair Blood Vessel Function
Gene Mutation May Cause Some Cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder
Plastics Chemical Tied to Aggression in Young Girls
EYE CARE, VISION
FDA Goes After Unapproved Eye Washes, Skin Ointments
Brain Pressure More Likely to Cause Vision Loss in Men
Time Teaches Brain to Recognize Objects
FITNESS
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
Exercise 30 Minutes a Day? Who Knew!
Research Confirms How Valuable A Healthy Lifestyle Can Be
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
GENERAL HEALTH
Afternoon Nap Might Make You Smarter
Simple Holistic Approach to Fight the Common Cold
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
After a Stroke, Light Exercise Gets Hands, Arms Working Again
Coffee Is Generally Heart-Friendly
Kids With Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Heart Trouble
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Backpack Safety Should Be on Back-to-School Lists
Safety Should Be Priority for Those Involved in Kids' Sports
Don't Leave Your Kids In The Car !
MEN'S HEALTH
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
A Simple 'Thank You' Brings Rewards to All
Fear Response May Stem From Protein in Brain
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
SENIORS
Older People at Greater Risk of Swine Flu Death
Rapid Weight Loss in Seniors Signals Higher Dementia Risk
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Smoking Ups Risk of Second Breast Cancer
Rheumatoid Arthritis Rising Among U.S. Women
Iodine in Prenatal Vitamins Varies Widely
Add your Article

Ozone-Depleting Inhalers Being Phased Out

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, May 30 (HealthDay News) -- Asthma inhalers that contain the drug albuterol to relax the airways also contain chemicals that harm the ozone layer. And these inhalers won't be available after this year, so U.S. health officials are urging patients to switch to alternative inhalers now.

Chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, are widely used to propel inhaled drugs into the lungs. However, products containing CFCs are being phased out, because the chemicals damage the Earth's protective ozone layer. CFC inhalers are being replaced by inhalers powered by HFAs, or hydrofluoroalkanes, which are ozone-friendly.

The change to HFA-powered inhalers has been in the works for several years, but the FDA issued an advisory on Friday, urging patients still using CFC inhalers to switch now. Inhalers containing CFCs will not be available after Dec. 31.

FDA officials said people with respiratory problems, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, may need some time to acclimate to HFA-based inhalers.

"There are 52 million prescriptions written for albuterol inhalers each year in the United States," Dr. Badrul Chowdhury, director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Division of Pulmonary and Allergy Products, said during a teleconference. Albuterol is used to treat shortness of breath in people with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, he noted.

Chowdhury said that approximately 65 percent of inhaler users have already switched to HFA inhalers.

"These new handlers may taste and feel different than the current CFC inhalers," he said. "In addition, HFA inhalers may feel softer than CFC inhalers."

Also, patients using HFA inhalers will have to prime and clean them to prevent the buildup of albuterol in the inhalers' nozzle. This buildup could block the medicine from reaching the lungs, Chowdhury said.

Each HFA inhaler has a different priming mechanism and cleaning and drying instructions. So, users should carefully read the instructions before using the inhaler. And HFA inhalers may cost more, because there's no generic HFA inhaler available yet, Chowdhury said.

Three HFA-propelled albuterol inhalers have been approved by the FDA: Proair HFA Inhalation Aerosol; Proventil HFA Inhalation Aerosol; and Ventolin HFA Inhalation Aerosol. Also, an HFA-propelled inhaler containing levalbuterol, a medicine similar to albuterol, is available as Xopenex HFA Inhalation Aerosol, the agency said.

Dr. Ira Finegold, chief of the Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City, doesn't see much difference in the effectiveness of the two types of inhalers. "The end result -- if you need it, does it open up your lungs? Yes, it does," he said.

However, the changeover will involve some patient education, he said. "The old medication, CFC albuterol, was really a very nice product, because the propellant got in your body and came out of your body -- it wasn't absorbed. And remarkably, it is a cleaning agent, so the device was self-cleaning."

The new HFA propellant is safe in the body but can clog the inhaler, Feingold said. "So, after use, these inhalers need to be rinsed out or they are not going to work correctly," he said.

"In addition," Feingold added, "each of the four new inhalers on the market is different in the number of times you have to prime it. There is also a little difference in feel and taste."

The discontinuation of CFC-propelled inhalers is the result of the U.S. Clean Air Act and an international treaty known as the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer.

Under provisions of this treaty, the United States agreed to stop the production and importation of substances that damage the ozone layer, including CFCs, according to the FDA.

More information

For more on inhalers, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.



SOURCES: May 30, 2008, teleconference with Badrul Chowdhury, M.D., Ph.D., director, Division of Pulmonary and Allergy Products, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, U.S. Food and Drug Administration; Ira Finegold, M.D., chief, Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Department of Medicine at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, New York City

Last Updated: May 30, 2008

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