ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Acupuncture Eases Side Effects of Head, Neck Cancer Treatments
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
Awareness of Alternative Therapies May Be Lacking
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
Extra Pounds in Mid-Life Affect Later Mobility
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
CANCER
Where You Live May Affect Your Cancer Diagnosis
Yoga May Bring Calm to Breast Cancer Treatment
Selenium, Omega-3s May Stave Off Colorectal Cancer
CAREGIVING
Mild Flu Season Coming to a Close
Moms Who Breast-Feed Less Likely to Neglect Child
Timing May Matter in Organ Donation Decisions
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Walk 100 Steps a Minute for 'Moderate' Exercise
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
Bye, Bye Back Fat?
COSMETIC
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Dental Implants Need More Work Than Root Canals
A Sweet Way to Shield Baby's Teeth
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
DIABETES
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
Lifestyle Factors Tied to Older Adults' Diabetes Risk
Formula Puts Doctor, Patient Glucose Readings on Same Page
DIET, NUTRITION
Pesticides on Produce Tied to ADHD in Children
Atkins Diet Tougher on Heart After Weight Loss
Even in 'Last Supper,' Portion Sizes Have Grown
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Is It Safe to Go in the Gulf Coast's Water?
Hairspray Exposure Ups Risk for Birth Defect in Sons
Exhaust From Railroad Diesel Linked to Lung Ailments
EYE CARE, VISION
Antioxidant-Rich Diet May Protect Against Eye Disease
High Temps Degrade Contact Lens Solution: Study
Sports Eye Injuries Leading Cause of Blindness in Youths
FITNESS
Walk Long, Slow and Often to Help the Heart
Good Warm-Ups Could Halve Sports Injuries
Daily Exercise at School Yields Rewards
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
GENERAL HEALTH
Keep Fire Safety in Mind as You Celebrate
Family Medicine Cabinet Top Source Of Kid's Poisonings
Autumn Chores Often Hazardous
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Psychiatric Drugs Might Raise Cardiac Death Risk
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
Western Diet Linked To Heart Disease, Metabolic Syndrome
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Working Intensely Early on May Help Autistic Kids
Health Tip: Back Pain in Children
Treat Kids to a Safe Halloween
MEN'S HEALTH
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
The Unmedicated Mind
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
SENIORS
Healthy Diet Could Cut Alzheimer's Disease Risk
Life Expectancy in U.S. Hits New High
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
For Women, Moderate Midlife Drinking Linked to Healthier Old Age
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
How Much Fish to Eat While Pregnant?
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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