The latest U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) action to phase out seven popular asthma inhalers may seem daunting. However, keep in mind that alternatives exist that are just as effective.

Environmental Damage

The seven inhalers discontinued are all metered-dose style and relied on chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) propellants to deliver medication into the patient's lungs. While the medication contained in these inhalers is perfectly safe, the CFC itself can damage the ozone layer. That's why the United States has joined with many other countries to prohibit products like these inhalers as they threaten the future of the environment.

The Specifics

The following seven inhalers, which are commonly used to treat asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), have either already been taken off the market or will be phased out over the next year or two:

  • Alupent Inhalation Aerosol (metaproterenol) as of June 2010.
  • Tilade Inhaler (nedocromil) as of June 2010.
  • Azmacort Inhalation Aerosol (triamcinolone) as of January 2011.
  • Intal Inhaler (cromolyn) as of January 2011.
  • Aerobid Inhaler System (flunisolide) as of July 2011.
  • Combivent Inhalation Aerosol (albuterol and ipratropium in combination) as of January 2014.
  • Maxair Autohaler (pirbuterol) as of January 2014.

What to Do

If you rely on any of these inhalers, don't despair. Your doctor can recommend a replacement that will be equally, or even more, effective without causing any environmental damage. The new ones will use a propellant in place of CFC to deliver the medication to your lungs, and this will feel different and could take some adjustment. Your doctor or pharmacist can help you to use your new inhaler correctly. However, if you find you can't use the new inhaler style, you can ask your doctor about trying a powder inhaler or liquid medications that work with a nebulizer machine.

If you're still using an inhaler with CFC and haven't finished it when the product can no longer be sold, it's fine to finish it before switching to one of the newer models. The FDA says that it's not illegal to use an existing CFC inhaler, but you just won't be able to have it refilled after the cut off date.


US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)