FDA Phases Out Asthma Inhalers Containing CFCs to Save Ozone Layer

Several asthma inhalers will be gradually phased out over the course of the year to comply with international agreements designed to protect the ozone layer. 

The FDA announced this week that it will remove seven metered-dose inhalers (MDI) from the market because they contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) as propellants to spray the medicine out of the inhaler.

The drugs are used to treat asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but the FDA indicates that alternative medications are available to replace all of the phased out inhalers.

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The action is part of the United States’ obligations under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. CFCs have been found to deplete the ozone layer, which protects life on earth from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun.

The U.S. has banned the use of CFCs in commonly used aerosols for about 25 years. There have been no CFCs produced in the U.S. since 1996 except for limited uses, like MDIs.

Inhalers affected by the phase out include:

  • Tilade Inhaler (nedocromil), by King Pharmaceuticals, with a phase-out date of June 14, 2010
  • Alupent Inhalation Aerosol (metaproterenol), by Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, with a phase-out date of June 14, 2010
  • Aerobid inhaler System (flunisolide), by Forest Laboratories, with a phase-out date of June 30, 2011
  • Azmacort Inhalation Aerosol (triamcinolone), by Abbott Laboratories, with a phase-out date of December 31, 2010
  • Intal Inhaler (cromolyn), by King Pharmaceuticals, with a phase-out date of December 31, 2010
  • Combivent Inhalation Aerosol (albuterol and ipratropium in combination) by Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, with a phase-out date of December 31, 2013
  • Maxair Autoinhaler (pirbuterol), by Graceway Pharmaceuticals, with a phase-out date of December 31, 2013

Asthma affects 20 million Americans, including 6.5 million children. It is a chronic disease with symptoms like wheezing, difficulty breathing and spasms, which can severely limit activities and impact quality of life.

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