Skip to comments.Asthmatics Beware: The Government May Ban Your Inhaler
Posted on 01/27/2006 3:07:55 PM PST by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
Eco-terrorists have struck again. Not in the dead of night, to be pursued by diligent agents of the FBI, but right out in the open, in a public meeting, under the auspices of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
On January 24, one of those ubiquitous FDA panels of "outside experts" voted, by an 11 to seven margin, to recommend that FDA ban non-prescription, over-the-counter asthma inhalers, used routinely by millions of asthma-sufferers to control the symptoms of their debilitating condition. As frequently noted in the press, while such recommendations are not binding, they are most often adopted.
The issue for the panel is not drug safety. It is not drug efficacy. It is the environment.
The inhalers proposed for extinction are used to treat mild to moderate asthma attacks by opening air passages. They work by propelling a measured dose of the drug epinephrine (or another bronchodilator) into the lungs. Unfortunately, the propellant is made up of chlorofluorocarbons, the dreaded CFCs.
Based on the scientific belief that CFCs released into the atmosphere are responsible for ozone layer depletion, they were first banned in consumer aerosol products by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1978. Then, in 1987, the so-called "Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer" sought to phase out CFCs on a worldwide basis. Described, as you might expect, as one of those "landmark" international agreements, the Montreal Protocol has now been signed by more than 180 countries. Subsequently, the U.S. banned all uses of CFCs as of 1996, except for certain "essential" products - medicines such as asthma inhalers.
Even the EPA, which, typically, has been pushing to extend the ban to asthma inhalers for years now, has estimated that inhaler-produced atmospheric CFC emissions is fractional - no more than 1.5 percent of the total. While easily accessible data are scant, we have seen one significantly lower estimate, and it is exceptionally difficult to believe that the tiny puffs inhaled by asthmatics produce CFC exhale of sufficient volume to present a real-world (i.e., not some hypothetical computer-modeled) effect. If such conclusive data, along with transparent methodology by which derived, exist, we'd like to take a look.
Even accepting the most horrific CFC scenarios, we are not talking about 50 million women lacquering big hair with hairspray several times daily or the other consequential uses for CFCs now gone missing except in countries that take a more cavalier (or pragmatic) view of "landmark" international environmental agreements than does the U.S.
We are talking about a medicine that is "essential" to those who use it. Today, the most prominent of the inhalers that would be banned is Primatene Mist, manufactured by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, which estimates 3 million American users.
Yes, there are alternatives, including powder formulations that may be sucked into the lungs without propellants and other aerosols that use recently developed propellants currently not deemed to present environmental problems. But the alternatives are not available without prescription and thus are more expensive, once again posing cost and availability issues for the so-called "little guy," to whose interests some liberal elected officials have recently expressed their undying devotion.
As we understand the Montreal Protocol, it does not absolutely, unequivocally, mandate the ban of CFC products if use is deemed essential and for which there are not available viable alternatives. Wyeth says it needs until 2009 or 2010 to have a substitute, which itself must be approved by the FDA, for over-the-counter use.
If you are an asthmatic, or have an asthmatic in your family, who depends on an over-the-counter inhaler, you might want to call your congressperson. Soon. See how much he or she cares about the "little guy."
HOW did THEY make aspirin? At school?
For the first time in over 10 years, I had to break down and go to the drug store to get one of these inhalers, because I could not stop wheezing after a brisk, two mile hike on Wednesday.
I rarely buy these things, but it made the difference for me of wheezing, staying up all night and calling my doctor, or getting a good nights rest (and oxygen.)
CFC's, the FDA, and these environazi's be damned.
The pharma lobby, acting through Jack Abramoff as usual, is lobbying to have everything we ingest put on prescription. Coming soon: prescription requirements on aspirin, water, and air.
propane could be used as a propellant
I have an Albuterol inhaler but it is by prescription. Albuterol is a controlled drug.
The problem is that albuterol can only be purchased by prescription. Basically, insurance companies make it so you can only buy one inhaler at a time within an arbitrary period. If you happen to: (a) run out, or (b) misplace your inhaler, and (c) its too soon to buy another one feel, yet you an attack coming on, Primatine (or its equivalent) is an excellent fall-back choice.
This has happened to me on occasion, and I have been very grateful to be able to get Primatine easily.
Epinepherine does increase heart rate and raise blood pressure, however, so it is best used sparingly by people with hypertension.
We told em so PING
These people are stark raving bonkers. How the H do asthma inhalers post the slightest risk to the environment? It's not like people with inhalers are squirting them up into the air, for crying out loud. You breathe the entire dose into your lungs. That's why they're called "inhalers".
What a bunch of idiots.
These are the same people that will be jumping on the idiotic California crapola that SHS causes asthma bandwagon.........tough luck.
In addition, many asthmatics WITH health insurance occasionally find themselves having an asthma attack while they don't have an inhaler (left it home, are on vacation, don't usually carry one but need one momentarily, etc.). It's a comforting feeling for ANY asthmatic to know they can pop into any drugstore, plop down $8-12 and get those invisible hands from around their throat. I speak from personal experience
I heard this on Fox News yesterday. I can't believe it.
Millions of people depend on Primatene Mist. I guess the ozone is more important then people's lives.
What a crock the FDA is. I'm sick of them!
your doctor can shorten that period by the way he writes the prescription because insurance companies cannot tell a doctor how to write a prescription....yet.
;No inhalers, no sudafed and coming soon no asprin.
No aspirin. Well the active ingredient in aspirin can be extracted by boiling willow bark. In fact that is how aspirin got started.
So they can't ban aspirin unless they ban willow trees. And since they've already made several other plants illegal who knows..............
I can only assume that most of these folks have never had the feeling that pallet of bricks was parked over their chest. Drugs have come a long way since my first memory of an asthma attack in 1956. Here's hoping the same tx can be packaged without CFCs.
And, of course, don't submit it for insurance coverage.
Right. Have you noticed how these people never exhale? All those CFCs are just absorbed into the bloodstream, I guess. </sarc>
You might want to hesitate before casting that "idiot" stone. :-)
I have encountered the problem of having to use the albuterol inhaler a bit more often than normal during a given month. I've gone to the pharmacy to buy another, and was told the insurance company would not pay for it because they said I should only use a certain number of puffs in a certain number of days.
Yeppers...all the Big Nanny Government types, Republicans and Democrats alike, are loving how we slap prescription requirements on these things. Except for public health risks (such as overuse of antibiotics), there shouldn't be a prescription requirement. As supportive as I am of physicians, there's no reason people should have to shell out the cash to see a doc to get a prescription for many medications.
They can either ban the plant, or try to stop people from extracting it. I think the DEA and FDA (and let's not forget Treasury!) would love to knock on a few doors to go after home-grown "aspirin labs"... :-(