Posted on September 27, 2011 at 1:10 PM
SAN ANTONIO -- A big change is on the way for people who control their asthma with an over-the-counter inhaler. As of January 1, 2012, you’ll need a prescription.
This is part of a push to get rid of CFC propellants that destroy the ozone. But that switch to a greener inhaler will cost consumers more.
Many asthma patients rely on doctor visits and prescription inhalers to control their condition. Other people with milder symptoms use over-the-counter medication like Primatene Mist for quick relief of symptoms like shortness of breath and chest tightness.
As of December 31, 2011, you’ll no longer find that product on the shelf. At this San Antonio Walgreen’s, it’s already in scarce supply.
“It is a fairly popular product,” said pharmacist Elizabeth Caldera. “And we’ve had many patients come in looking for the actual inhaler itself. And you just can’t find it anywhere right now. All we have is just the replacements. And even then, our stock is very, very low.”
The propellant used in Primatene Mist is chlorofluorocarbon. That’s the aerosol substance that makes it spray. There’s a global efforts to cut out CFCs to protect the ozone.
Primatene Mist is the latest casualty. It sold for $20. Prescription alternatives are at least twice the price.
“Patients who have insurance will have higher co-pays,” explained Caldera. “These prescription inhalers are not considered generics. They’re all brand name. So you’ll have a higher co-pay on there, unfortunately.”
The prescription inhalers use a propellant called hydrofluoroalkane. It won’t affect the atmosphere.
“These inhalers are more environmentally friendly, better for the environment,” Caldera stated.
Estimates are that one to two million Americans use over-the-counter asthma inhalers. If you are one of them, check with your doctor now about getting a prescription.