The Obama Administration Food and Drug Administration said Thursday patients who use the epinephrine inhalers to treat mild asthma will need to switch by Dec. 31 to other types that do not contain chlorofluorocarbons, an aerosol substance once found in a variety of spray products.
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in metered-dose asthma inhalers that contain the drug epinephrine cannot be used, following an international agreement that bans CFCs because they deplete the Earth's ozone layer.
These inhalers use CFCs to propel medicine out of the inhaler so patients can breathe it into their lungs. The FDA said some manufacturers now use a propellant called hydrofluoroalkane instead, which is less harmful to the environment.
The action is part of an agreement signed by the U.S. and other nations to stop using substances that deplete the ozone layer, a region in the atmosphere that helps block harmful ultraviolet rays from the Sun.
Primatene Mist inhalers are already labeled to show they cannot be used after Dec. 31, 2010. The FDA said some consumers may have to pay more for prescription asthma inhalers. About 1 million to 2 million patients use Primatene Mist, although it is difficult to get an estimate of how many people use over-the-counter drugs, the FDA said.
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More than 235 million people worldwide suffer from asthma and it is the most common chronic disease among children, according to the World Health Organization.