A treaty to protect the ozone is requiring the removal of an effective asthma inhaler. From the CNN Health story:
The Food and Drug Administration is reminding doctors and patients that Primatene Mist, the only nonprescription asthma inhaler in the United States, can no longer be sold or prescribed after December 31. Asthma patients are urged to get prescriptions for alternative medications, since this treatment option runs out at the end of the year, the FDA said Thursday.
Well, that’s going to add to people’s health care costs. Why?
Primatene Mist, an epinephrine inhaler, made by Armstrong Pharmaceutical Inc., contains chlorofluorocarbons, a chemical known to deplete the ozone layer. After the United States signed an international agreement - The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer - to phase-out the compounds, the FDA announced in 2008, that these inhalers could not be made or sold in 2012.
Good grief. Do we really have to take away people’s medicine? The answer, it seems to me, is whether there is an effective alternative that won’t cost asthmatics a lot of extra money. From what I can tell from the story, there isn’t:
The FDA says a number of manufacturers have already replaced their CFC inhalers with a propellant called hydrofluoroalkane or HFA, which is more environment-friendly, but there’s currently no HFA version of an epinephrine inhaler available. Epinephrine is a hormone that’s used to treat life-threatening allergic reactions. It opens up the airways in the lungs and allows patients to breathe more easily.
Most of the ozone problem was solved by changing the rules for air conditioners, refrigerators, and the like. Unless there is a similarly priced and equally efficacious alternative, let people keep their medicine. Their health is far more important than the miniscule threat that this asthma inhaler might pose to the atmosphere.