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EPA Bans CFC-Based Asthma Inhalers 394

Posted by timothy
from the next-they-come-for-the-glasses-tape dept.
bonch writes "The EPA has banned over-the-counter asthma inhalers as part of an agreement with other nations to avoid using chlorofluorocarbons, a substance once used in aerosol sprays. Alternative albuterol inhalers cost almost three times as much as the $20 epinephrine inhalers sold by online retailers."
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EPA Bans CFC-Based Asthma Inhalers

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  • Very Old News (Score:5, Informative)

    by nbetcher (973062) <nbetcher @ g m a i l .com> on Friday September 23, 2011 @07:07PM (#37497488)

    This is actually extremely old news. A treaty was signed over a decade ago to ban various uses of CFCs in phases. The OTC epinephrine inhalers were pulled off of the market by the manufacturer some time ago due to a different reason (which I forget), then they decided to not restart production on it because CFC inhalers would be banned as of 1/1/2010.

    Anyone that has asthma will tell you that things dramatically changed for them in 2010 when their old albuterol (fast-acting, for emergencies) inhalers were reformulated to not include CFCs (dubbed HFA, aka Hydrofluoroalkane) . Most HFA-using patients state that they cannot "feel" the aerosol or that it doesn't work nearly as well as the CFC-based ones.*

    Point being, CFC inhalers haven't been around for a couple of years and we knew they were going away over a decade ago!

    (*From my professional experience.)

  • Since this has been the plan for YEARS NOW, I don't think you're correct.

    The lobbying was in delaying the change.

    But hey, don't let facts and common sense stop you from using a pop culture fad belief as an excuse to rant.

  • by assemblerex (1275164) on Friday September 23, 2011 @07:27PM (#37497734)
    The new inhaler with no insurance? $60. Before? $30
    Less pressure, not as effective in getting the meds to my lungs.
    I now order them from mexico, same old good stuff that works.
  • Re:government idiots (Score:5, Informative)

    by Cyberax (705495) on Friday September 23, 2011 @07:28PM (#37497744)

    Not really. Right now inhalers are among the most significant remaining sources of CFCs.

    The other remaining source is Halon fire suppression systems. Halon is no longer produced, but remaining stocks are still in use.

  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportlandNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Friday September 23, 2011 @07:31PM (#37497780) Homepage Journal

    being propagated through the media. Probably written by some anti regulation type; or it's plain shoddy 'reporting'.

    a) There is a non- CFC primatine mist coming out.

    http://www.empr.com/update-on-primatene-mist-discontinuation/article/208381/ [empr.com]

    b) this has been a phased roll out since 2008

    c) albuterol was the first to be regulated to be CFC free.

    d) The corporation the make CFC products stalled in making a replacement in order to maximize there profits, and probably to make regulation seem bad.

    e) the only impact CFC inhalers, not over the cuonter inhalers. So you will see OTC inhalers, probably soon.

    Whoever wrote that article should be slapped up side the head for sowing discontent in the populace with factual lies.

  • by causality (777677) on Friday September 23, 2011 @07:59PM (#37498092)

    The important thing is that the mean blood lead level in 1975 was 15.5 g/dl. The mean blood lead level today is less than 2g/dl.

    That can't be right. That would be what, about a third of a kilogram of lead in the average person's body?

    The average adult has about 5 pints of blood in their body. A pint is a little more than half a liter. So that's approximately 2.5 liters * 10 * 15.5, which works out to about 387 grams of lead. I think that's enough to kill a blue whale.

    From reading the Wikipedia article on lead poisoning, I assume you meant micrograms.

  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Friday September 23, 2011 @08:27PM (#37498360) Homepage

    Or you could just see your doctor, maybe manage your asthma better. Maybe have a prescription available in your wallet if you really need it. If you're running to the 24 hour pharmacy in the middle of the night chances are you're doing it wrong.

    Get a peak flow meter, learn how to use it. Works great for most people and gives them a 12-24 hour window of alert time before you really get symptomatic.

  • by MakinBacon (1476701) on Saturday September 24, 2011 @12:52AM (#37499610)
    I take it you've never used any of the environmentally friendly inhalers before, because they are fucking terrible. I've been using them for a few years (The EPA went apeshit insane on albuterol a few years ago, and I had no idea that there was an OTC alternative), and they get routinely clogged up by both dust and even dried medicine, and I can ensure you that this was never a problem with the old inhalers. Thankfully, my asthma is really mild and I rarely need these, but if I ever have a real emergency, I'm fucked.
  • Re:government idiots (Score:4, Informative)

    by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Saturday September 24, 2011 @02:57AM (#37499968)
    CFCs function as photocatalysts. More precisely, their breakdown product of free radical chlorine does.

    Ozone + Cl ---UV Light---> Oxygen + Cl

    So a little CFC can break down thousands of times it's own mass of ozone before the Cl radicals eventually find something else to react with.

    CFCs also make very potent greenhouse gas.
  • Re:government idiots (Score:4, Informative)

    by Dr_Barnowl (709838) on Saturday September 24, 2011 @04:23AM (#37500256)

    The pharmaceutical companies probably welcomed this move. The existing CFC laden medication is available over the counter, which means that it's cheaper. By banning it, they get to sell more of their prescription-only substitutes, which cost 1.5 - 3x more.

    Although I have to say, you're being screwed anyway. We don't have an over-the-counter equivalent in the UK. The drug in question is an epinephrine inhaler, which is a poor choice as a bronchodilator because it has too many side effects like elevated heart rate. The prescription replacement, albuterol (we call is salbutamol) is a selective beta-2 adrenoceptor agonist - it stimulates the epinephrine receptors in the air passages, but not the ones in your heart, so fewer side effects like dry mouth and palpitations.

    You're paying $20 over the internet for a "cheap" epinephrine inhaler (which as we explain, is an inferior medicine for the purpose).
    You'll pay a minimum of $30 for a prescribed albuterol inhaler.

    Our list price (for our national health service) for a 200 dose albuterol inhaler is £1.50 ( about $2.30 )

    Who's screwing you? Ah yes, the evil corporations, the ones who manufacture the fucking medicine.... the HMOs..... etc, etc, etc.

  • by gmack (197796) <gmack@NOsPAM.innerfire.net> on Saturday September 24, 2011 @04:24AM (#37500258) Homepage Journal

    I have used those along with several forms of liquid and several forms in pill. One day I mentioned to my specialist that the compressed air version of my medication worked better than the same chemical in powered form (also inhaled) and he replied that I was correct: the most effective way to get something into the blood stream is through the lungs and the most effective way to do that with with the compressed air versions.

    Any doctor pushing a bronchodilator for anything other than the rare emergency use is simply incompetent . Lifestyle changes don't work in all cases although they do help depending on what the triggers are and I have found that relaxation techniques are a great way to avoid a panic attack and passing out but aren't entirely effective. In my case the magic treatment that finally got me off daily Ventolin, along with making sure my house is clean and avoiding smokers (even when they aren't smoking), was Alvesco and that is compressed air inhaled.

    As an aside, I really worry about the US when I find out that an Albuterol inhaler there costs $20. My CFC free version of Ventolin cost me $12 in Canada and in Spain I pay less than 10 Euros. The Americans are getting ripped off.

  • Re:government idiots (Score:4, Informative)

    by jo_ham (604554) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (999mahoj)> on Saturday September 24, 2011 @07:02AM (#37500690)

    I'm not the OP, but.... yes. It's just chemistry.

    The two compounds in Primatente Mist are CFC-12 and CFC-114, or dichlorodifluoromethane and 1,2-dichlorotetrafluoroethane respectively. These are well studied in stratospheric ozone chemistry and are responsible for the catalytic loss cycle by breaking down in the presence of UV light and giving halogen radicals that attack ozone. The atomic chlorine (it usually appears as a chlorine radical) catalytically destroys ozone:

    O3 + Cl. > ClO. + O2
    O + ClO. > Cl. + O2

    The mono-atomic oxygen there is a simplification of other processes that form it, but it's a good simplification of what happens overall - the chlorine is long-lived in the stratosphere, so very small amounts destroy a large amount of ozone.

    It's not the only loss cycle of course - there are natural and man-made processes going on up there, but it is one of the ones that has had such a huge effect.

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