As of December 31, 2013, all inhaler medical products containing chlorofluorocarbons will be officially phased out by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in compliance with an international treaty called the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer signed in 1987, to phase out the worldwide production and use of chloroflucarbons (CFCs). Other products that use CFCs already taken off the market here include hairsprays, deodorants and air conditioning.
“The EPA and FDA's partnership has facilitated a safe, gradual transition to CFC-free inhalers in the United States,” said Drusilla Hufford, director of EPA’s Stratospheric Protection Division of the Office of Air and Radiation. “This action is an important contribution to the global effort to repair the Earth’s protective ozone layer and save millions of lives through the prevention of skin cancer.”
“CFCs were used as propellants to move the drug out of inhalers so that patients can inhale the medicine,” said Badrul Chowdhury, M.D., director of the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Rheumatology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “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.”
Since May, many COPD suffers have already transitioned from Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc’s COMBIVENT MDI aerosol inhaler to their propellant-free COMBIVENT® RESPIMAT® (ipratropium bromide and albuterol) inhalation spray treatment.
“We are excited to offer a medication for COPD patients that uses an inhaler which has the ability to convert the same liquid medication as Combivent MDI into a slow-moving mist without the need for chlorofluorocarbon-propellants,” stated Tunde Otulana, M.D., acting chief of Boehringer’s Clinical Development and Medical Affairs division. “Helping people breathe better is our passion and we are continuing to research the RESPIMAT inhaler with other late-stage compounds for respiratory patient populations beyond COPD.”
Note: Inhalers have been a critical part of the treatment prescribed for the nearly 25 million people who suffer from asthma and an additional 15 million diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including chronic bronchitis and/or emphysema, in this country. Readers who use inhalers to relieve respiratory distress need to talk to their health care professional about a prescription for an alternative treatment.