The last two inhalers to
contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which deplete the ozone layer, will be
removed from the market by Dec. 31, the US Food and Drug Administration has
That will complete the
agency's long-running plan to phase out all of these types of inhalers, to
comply with an international treaty that aims to protect the Earth's ozone
layer, the FDA said in a news release.
Inhalers typically are used
to deliver the drug albuterol, which treats asthma and chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease (COPD). More than 25 million people suffer from asthma, and
another 15 million have been diagnosed with COPD, a serious lung disease that
gets worse with time.
CFCs used as propellants
"CFCs were used as
propellants to move the drug out of inhalers so that patients could inhale the
medicine," Dr Badrul Chowdhury, director of the Division of Pulmonary,
Allergy and Rheumatology Products in the FDA's Centre for Drug Evaluation and
Research, said in a news release. "For more than two decades, the FDA and
EPA have collaborated to phase out CFCs in inhalers – a process that included
input from the public, advisory committees, manufacturers and stakeholders."
Although most inhalers
using CFCs were phased out in 2008, two CFC inhalers remained: Combivent
Inhalation Aerosol and Maxair Auto haler. Those who have asthma or COPD who use
these inhalers should ask their doctor about alternative treatments, the FDA
For the most part, CFC
inhalers have been replaced by inhalers powered by hydrofluoroalkanes (HFA),
which are ozone friendly.
The FDA has approved three
HFA-propelled albuterol inhalers: ProAir HFA, Proventil HFA and Ventolin HFA.
An HFA-propelled inhaler containing levalbuterol, a medicine similar to
albuterol, is available as Xopenex HFA, the agency said.
The discontinuation of
CFC-propelled inhalers is the result of both the US Clean Air Act and an
international treaty known as the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete
the Ozone Layer.
For more on inhalers, visit
the US Food and Drug Administration.