Representatives from the Allergy and Asthma Network of Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA) urged the medical community to educate their patients with respiratory disorders about the upcoming CFC-to-HFA during the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI).
"A significant number of patients are still not aware of the federal mandate, or how to safely go about making this change," says Nancy Sander, president and founder of AANMA. "Patients and physicians need to know that inhalers are changing, these changes are mandatory, and there are important decisions to make about treatment options that require thoughtful consideration of the patient’s medical history and current respiratory health status."
After December 31, 2008, albuterol inhalers that contain chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) propellants will no longer be manufactured or sold in the US due to their role in destroying the Earth’s ozone layer. These inhalers have been replaced with four distinct non-CFC propelled alternatives, which contain hydrofluoroalkane (HFA) propellant.
"This is the first time that an effective medication has been removed from the market in the USA for an environmental issue," says Ira Finegold, MD, chief of the Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology in the Department of Medicine at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in New York, and past president of the ACAAI. "However, the newer products available are not identical and each has specific differences. Physicians should monitor patients making the transition to HFA albuterol to be sure they understand the differences in the use and care of the newer products."
Both ACAAI and AANMA urge patients and physicians to be aware that the new HFA propelled inhalers are different than what most patients may be used to, and, as such, education is required.
"As CFC inhalers are phased out, patients must be prepared for changes to their usual medications," says Dennis Spangler, MD, Atlanta Allergy and Asthma Clinic. "In addition to changes in spray, new cleaning and priming requirements, there are cost considerations that patients will need to recognize. It’s important that physicians urge their patients to remain on the medication prescribed to them, rather than turn to less expensive alternatives. Coupon and patient assistance programs are readily available to help ease the transition."
Additional information on the change to HFA inhalers can be found on the ACAAI’s website.