FDA issues advice for switch to HFA-albuterol inhalers

The agency releases alert to transition patients to new albuterol inhalers by year's end.

Come December 31, chlorofluorocarbon (CFC)-propelled inhalers will not be available in the United States due to their harmful effects on the atmosphere’s ozone layer. The Food & Drug Administration has issued a reminder to patients and healthcare professionals of the impending change to the more environmentally-friendly hydrofluoroalkane (HFA) propellant. According to the FDA, manufacturers have been ramping up production of the HFA-containing inhalers so an adequate supply is available. The agency warns that a spray of the HFA inhaler may have a softer feel or a different taste than the CFC-propelled inhalers and that HFA inhalers also require priming and cleaning to prevent buildup of drug in the device. So far, three HFA-propelled albuterol inhalers are FDA-approved: Proair HFA (Ivax), Proventil HFA (3M), and Ventolin HFA (GlaxoSmithKline). Xopenex HFA (Sepracor), containing levalbuterol, is also available. The phaseout of inhalers containing CFC is a result of the Clean Air Act and the Montreal Protocol in Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

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