As the world leaves no stone unturned 2 make every thing on earth in the favor of those living on it, time came 4 the medical materials 2 catch up with it. Here is what they hav 2 say:
U.S. patients who use certain asthma inhalers made with ozone-depleting propellants should talk to their doctors now about alternatives ahead of a ban that starts in January, health officials said on Friday.
Albuterol inhalers that use chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) to propel the medicine into the lungs will no longer be sold in the United States after this year because CFCs damage the Earth's ozone layer.
Doctors should begin switching patients to other albuterol inhalers that contain hydrofluroalkane (HFA) propellants, the Food and Drug Administration said.
Patients need to familiarize themselves with the HFA versions, agency officials said. The spray may taste different and feel softer than CFC-propelled inhalers.
Also, HFA inhalers need to be cleaned regularly to prevent blockages in the device that could prevent the medicine from reaching the lungs.
Patient advocate Sandra Fusco-Walker urged switching now to give patients time to adjust to differences. For example, the CFC versions need to be primed by pumping the device two times. The newer ones require three or four pumps for priming, depending on the product, in order to deliver the medicine properly, she said.
"It is a learning curve, and the problem is it is a life-saving medication," said Fusco-Walker, director of patient advocacy at the Allergy and Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics.
The inhalers treat wheezing in patients with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Most patients already have switched, FDA officials said. Only one manufacturer, Armstrong Pharmaceuticals, still sells an albuterol CFC inhaler.
All of the HFA inhalers available now are name brands and cost more than Armstrong's generic CFC product. FDA officials said it was unclear when a generic HFA inhaler would reach the market.
The Armstrong albuterol CFC inhaler usually costs between $13 and $17, said Dr. Stuart Stoloff, a Nevada family physician and member of a National Institutes of Health panel that wrote asthma treatment guidelines. The price of brand-name HFA inhalers ranged from about $29 to $65 at various pharmacies that Stoloff surveyed.
The availability of the generic CFC inhaler is already limited in some areas, said Stoloff, who also encouraged patients to switch as soon as possible.
The FDA-approved albuterol HFA inhalers are Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd's ProAir HFA, Schering-Plough Corp's Proventil HFA and GlaxoSmithKline Plc's Ventolin HFA.
Sepracor Inc's Xopenex HFA is another option, the FDA said. It contains a similar medicine, levalbuterol.
Fusco-Walker said many patients without health insurance are eligible for discounted, or in some cases, free inhalers. People with insurance may see co-payments rise, or their insurers covering only one of the four HFA inhalers, she said. Her group is pushing for broader coverage