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EPA Bans CFC-Based Asthma Inhalers

timothy posted about 3 years ago | from the next-they-come-for-the-glasses-tape dept.

Government 394

bonch writes "The EPA has banned over-the-counter asthma inhalers as part of an agreement with other nations to avoid using chlorofluorocarbons, a substance once used in aerosol sprays. Alternative albuterol inhalers cost almost three times as much as the $20 epinephrine inhalers sold by online retailers."

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government idiots (4, Insightful)

p51d007 (656414) | about 3 years ago | (#37497364)

Government, EPA...what a bunch of idiots. Here we have an inexpensive asthma product, that helps MILLIONS of people each day, and now thanks to the government, it will costs those people MORE for a different product. One of the scariest things ever said was... "I'm from the federal government, and I'm here to HELP you".

Re:government idiots (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37497392)

Corporations, what a bunch of idiots. Here we have an ozone depleting product, that will affect BILLIONS of people each day, and now thanks to the government, it will save those people MORE by keeping intact the ozone layer. Once of the scariest things ever said was... "I'm from the corporation, and I'm here to SAVE the planet".

Re:government idiots (0)

Kvasio (127200) | about 3 years ago | (#37497556)

+1, outbreak of common sense

Re:government idiots (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37497576)

+1, outbreak of common sense

Not quite. This is common sense:

It's the blacks. It's THEIR fault.

Re:government idiots (4, Interesting)

ravenshrike (808508) | about 3 years ago | (#37497766)

The amount of CFCs pumped into the atmosphere by asthma inhalers is negligible at best. Even if every person on the planet used one, which they don't.

Re:government idiots (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37497916)

Corporations, what a bunch of idiots. Here we have an ozone depleting product, that will affect BILLIONS of people each day, and now thanks to the government, it will save those people MORE by keeping intact the ozone layer. Once of the scariest things ever said was... "I'm from the corporation, and I'm here to SAVE the planet".

Yeah, fuck those asthma sufferers. Even though there are more pollutants pumped into the atmosphere from running your car for less than a second, those people deserve to have the medicine they depend on to breath cost more. If their combined medicinal use affects the lungs of even an ANT in a million years, I want them strung up and caned.

Now watch me light up this joint.

Re:government idiots (1, Interesting)

petteyg359 (1847514) | about 3 years ago | (#37497416)

If the asthma is aggravated by the atmosphere, and the supposed relief mechanism just puts more crap in the atmosphere, then that relief mechanism is doing it bass-ackwards.

But more profitable (0)

publiclurker (952615) | about 3 years ago | (#37497468)

that's all that matters to these people. Lining their pockets and making everyone else suffer the consequences.

Re:government idiots (2, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | about 3 years ago | (#37497552)

The amount of "crap in the the atmosphere" from all inhalers ever made, combined, is trivial. These are the only OTC rescue inhalers on the market. People will die from this bullshit.

Re:government idiots (2)

causality (777677) | about 3 years ago | (#37497666)

People will die from this bullshit.

That's usually what it takes to get bureaucrats to take notice. It doesn't matter how predictable the problems are. Once somebody dies, suddenly they see something as a problem.

I am ignorant about the inner workings of these inhalers. So I am curious, what's the reason they cannot simply use compressed air to provide the aerosol? Why must it be a CFC or albuterol?

Re:government idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37497810)

I am ignorant about the inner workings of these inhalers. So I am curious, what's the reason they cannot simply use compressed air to provide the aerosol? Why must it be a CFC or albuterol?

There's already an alternative called HFA and the makers of Primatene Mist have known this ban was coming for years. Why aren't they ready? My guess is maximizing profit.

Re:government idiots (1)

EdZ (755139) | about 3 years ago | (#37497732)

These are the only OTC rescue inhalers on the market. People will die from this bullshit.

In the US, maybe. In the UK, I've never even seen an epinephrine inhaler, salbutamol (albuterol) is the standard.

Re:government idiots (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 3 years ago | (#37497860)

These are the only OTC rescue inhalers on the market. People will die from this bullshit.

In the US, maybe. In the UK, I've never even seen an epinephrine inhaler, salbutamol (albuterol) is the standard.

In the Canada, maybe. In the US, I've never even seen an epinephrine inhaler, salbutamol (albuterol) is the standard.

And I have asthma!

Re:government idiots (4, Informative)

Cyberax (705495) | about 3 years ago | (#37497744)

Not really. Right now inhalers are among the most significant remaining sources of CFCs.

The other remaining source is Halon fire suppression systems. Halon is no longer produced, but remaining stocks are still in use.

Re:government idiots (2)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 3 years ago | (#37497968)

Not really. Right now inhalers are among the most significant remaining sources of CFCs.

The other remaining source is Halon fire suppression systems. Halon is no longer produced, but remaining stocks are still in use.

Of course they are, because every other source has been eliminated.

Re:government idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37498010)

Source?

Re:government idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37497430)

I didn't even know you could still get the aerosol ones. I use a Symbicort puffer everyday, pretty much costs me nothing. Admittedly though, I'm not in the US.

Re:government idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37497542)

UK and other countries already banned them. Also, most patients with basic treatment are on albuterol and not epi.

Re:government idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37497442)

Unregulated, appointed regulation.
Some of these Gov regulatory branches need to have checks and balances put in place.

I saw a great shirt that said "The ATF should be a convenience store not a Gov Bureau."

Re:government idiots (2)

causality (777677) | about 3 years ago | (#37497710)

I saw a great shirt that said "The ATF should be a convenience store not a Gov Bureau."

In a free country, it would be.

The regulation of things like alcohol, tobacco and guns should have never involved the feds in the first place. The states are more than capable of handling it. The whole federalism thing works when it's tried.

Re:government idiots (0)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 3 years ago | (#37498012)

The whole federalism thing works when it's tried.

Federalism is exactly what we have now, and it doesn't appear to be working that well. You'd probably be better classified as an anti-Federalist.

There is a rationale for the ATF and other federal regulation however: for things which span multiple states, or are easily transported between states, it can be argued that these things need to be regulated at the national level instead of allowing each state to do it its own way, as coordination between 50 different states with 50 different laws is logistically unlikely. Of course, by Federalizing the law and enforcement, you have to get compromise and everyone to agree to one law, and that doesn't work all that well either. As we've seen, getting places as different as New Jersey, Illinois, Arizona, and Montana to agree on a common set of gun laws is basically impossible.

Re:government idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37497546)

IDIOTS

That is who runs this country. Why else take a product that works and replace it with something that costs more and is less effective.

Oh yes let's see where we have seen that before... R12 or Halon anyone?

Sigh - time to reboot this Govt!

wrong calculation (-1, Troll)

Kvasio (127200) | about 3 years ago | (#37497368)

in the "$20 epinephrine inhalers sold by online retailers" the cost of environment is not included. Add cost of repairing ozone layer and it will probably surpass the threefold.

Re:wrong calculation (1)

SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) | about 3 years ago | (#37497394)

What "ozone layer" is this you speak of?

Re:wrong calculation (1)

OverlordQ (264228) | about 3 years ago | (#37497410)

What about those people who cannot afford the $60 inhalers? They're just SOL because Pharma convinced the FDA to ban a trivial source of CFCs?

Re:wrong calculation (1)

OverlordQ (264228) | about 3 years ago | (#37497432)

s/E/F/;

Re:wrong calculation (1)

Nimey (114278) | about 3 years ago | (#37497472)

One wonders if the price on the newer inhalers will come down, since there will be volume efficiencies when more of them are made.

Re:wrong calculation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37497494)

No, it won't. There are no other non-prescription inhalers available. This is nothing more than a ploy to hurt us poor folks even more.

Fuck you, FDA.

Re:wrong calculation (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 3 years ago | (#37498020)

One wonders if the price on the newer inhalers will come down, since there will be volume efficiencies when more of them are made.

Short answer is "No." CFC inhalers for prescription inhalers has been banned in the US for several years, the price has not gone down. There is no reason to expect over the counter inhalers will go down. When the prescription ones dropped CFC as the propellant, they received new patents now they are protected. This was nothing more than the pharmaceutical companies getting the OTC banned from competing with them.

Re:wrong calculation (1)

Baseclass (785652) | about 3 years ago | (#37497504)

Once the pharmaceutical companies start losing enough sales the price will come down.
Alternatively you could switch to a prescription inhaler, that is if you have insurance.

Re:wrong calculation (0)

Kvasio (127200) | about 3 years ago | (#37497532)

And what about people using $20 inhalers repaying to the rest of the world for global damage caused by ozone depletion?

Re:wrong calculation (2)

TheCouchPotatoFamine (628797) | about 3 years ago | (#37497738)

here's a novel idea - why are albuterol inhalers (I've had them for 20 years now) prescription at all? they want to do this? MAKE ALBUTEROL OVER THE COUNTER!

Re:wrong calculation (2)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 3 years ago | (#37497928)

here's a novel idea - why are albuterol inhalers (I've had them for 20 years now) prescription at all? they want to do this? MAKE ALBUTEROL OVER THE COUNTER!

The answer is in the question.
The lifetime of pharma patents is 21 years + extra time for other things.

Patents on non-CFC albuterol inhalers started expiring in 2009.
More patents will expire over the next few years and non-CFC generics will show up within the next 5 years.
Until those patents run out, it won't be over the counter and it won't be generic.

Re:wrong calculation (1)

Cwix (1671282) | about 3 years ago | (#37497762)

How much CFC do you really think is in there?

I'm all for certain types of regulations, but this one is just stupid. Why doesnt the FDA encourage the use of a different propellent instead?

Re:wrong calculation (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 years ago | (#37497872)

They do and have been, for years.
companies delayed in getting there non CFC OTC inhalers approved. They are in the process of approval. I f the corporation moved right away, the OTC non CFC inhalers would be on the shelves. But they didn't and now the blame the government and push this story out to every media. Just look, it's the same exact story in every media.

If the FDA delays, then I would bet the companies would delay there release of the OTC non CFC because the make more money from those.

1-2 million people, squirting CFC into the air every day? it adds up.

Re:wrong calculation (1)

moodyblue (87234) | about 3 years ago | (#37497886)

Man are you a member Sierra Club? What are there too many people on the planet, I know lets start with the people with asthma and work up list of chronic diseases by the "damage" they do to the "planet"!

A*hole.

Re:wrong calculation (3, Insightful)

nbetcher (973062) | about 3 years ago | (#37497536)

I recommend not going to Walgreens or CVS - go to an independent pharmacy, you'll get better care there anyways and cheaper prices. Then, don't get Proventil or Proair, get Ventolin! Ventolin is the cheapest and Glaskosmith-Kline has $15 rebate checks they give to pharmacies sometimes (and no, I don't work for ANY Pharmas). You also may want to check their website because they have programs you can enroll in to get your meds for cheap/free, plus they may even have some coupons you can use there.

Re:wrong calculation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37497698)

Pharmacist here. I can't recommend the Ventolin enough. It is cheaper and it has a dose counter.

Re:wrong calculation (-1, Troll)

ae1294 (1547521) | about 3 years ago | (#37497846)

Pharmacist here. I can't recommend the Ventolin enough. It is cheaper and it has a dose counter.

Another pharmacist here, I can't recommend the Ventolin as it kills babies. They don't even need to use the Ventolin, It's the damnist thing I've ever seen... I can however recommend Dr. Bob's chiropractic services to cure all that ills you.

Re:wrong calculation (1)

causality (777677) | about 3 years ago | (#37497908)

I can't recommend the Ventolin as it kills babies.

It's okay. Babies don't have jobs and cars so they can't drive to drugstores to buy Ventolin. See, it's self-correcting!

Re:wrong calculation (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 years ago | (#37497900)

Walgreens as always given me excellent service.

I haven't used the for Asthma, but other thing. Certainly no worse then my 'local' pharmacy; which was more expensive so I don't go back.

Re:wrong calculation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37497596)

And what about people that could not afford the $20 inhalers in the first place??

Re:wrong calculation (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about 3 years ago | (#37497736)

Except that the summary is overtly lying - the albuterol inhalers cost as little as $30. It's even in the linked article.

Re:wrong calculation (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37497412)

That's utter bullshit. The amount of compressed gas in asthma inhalers is minuscule. Even when you multiply that by thousands, the amount would be extremely modest. Besides, negative health outcomes by people who don't have inhalers they need (because they can't afford the 'green' ones) would far, far exceed any damage to the ozone layer.

God damn hippies.

Re:wrong calculation (1)

Kvasio (127200) | about 3 years ago | (#37497510)

dear AC, you're wrong.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ozone_depletion [wikipedia.org]

A single chlorine atom would keep on destroying ozone (thus a catalyst) for up to two years (the time scale for transport back down to the troposphere) were it not for reactions that remove them from this cycle by forming reservoir species such as hydrogen chloride (HCl) and chlorine nitrate (ClONO2). On a per atom basis, bromine is even more efficient than chlorine at destroying ozone, but there is much less bromine in the atmosphere at present. As a result, both chlorine and bromine contribute significantly to the overall ozone depletion. Laboratory studies have shown that fluorine and iodine atoms participate in analogous catalytic cycles. However, in the Earth's stratosphere, fluorine atoms react rapidly with water and methane to form strongly bound HF, while organic molecules which contain iodine react so rapidly in the lower atmosphere that they do not reach the stratosphere in significant quantities. Furthermore, a single chlorine atom is able to react with 100,000 ozone molecules.

Re:wrong calculation (2, Interesting)

BitHive (578094) | about 3 years ago | (#37497640)

This contradicts my instincts about the chemistry of our atmosphere. Just who performed these "laboratory studies"? If they were funded by government money in any way then they are probably part of the vast left-wing conspiracy to debunk my gut feelings.

Re:wrong calculation (2)

hey! (33014) | about 3 years ago | (#37497988)

This contradicts my instincts about the chemistry of our atmosphere. Just who performed these "laboratory studies"? If they were funded by government money in any way then they are probably part of the vast left-wing conspiracy to debunk my gut feelings.

Alright, comrades, the jig's up. BitHive caught us red (of course) handed. Now everyone will know about our scheme:

(1) Threaten everyone with gut debunking.
(2) They start hollerin' for single payer.
(3) ???
(4) Redistribute wealth!

Re:wrong calculation (1)

xstonedogx (814876) | about 3 years ago | (#37497802)

Can we have something other than a Wikipedia article as a source? It seems to me that just because a single chlorine atom CAN react with 100,000 ozone molecules doesn't mean it will or that it does on average.

What's the actual damage to the ozone layer from these devices?
Is the cost of that damage more or less than the cost of banning these devices?

Re:wrong calculation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37497522)

This is Slashdot so I wont be surprised if you are modded down to -1 Troll but, YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY CORRECT!!!

As I understand it, the ozone hole is currently closing. Clearly, these inhalers are not having a detrimental effect on the atmosphere.

But hey, Slashdot never lets facts get in the way of their zealot adherence to the religion of the environment (A.K.A. The human haters club!)

Re:wrong calculation (1)

Pentium100 (1240090) | about 3 years ago | (#37497436)

OK, so, since the money will be saved by banning the $20 inhalers, how about the government pays the difference between whatever the new inhaler costs and the $20 that the old one did?

only if (0)

publiclurker (952615) | about 3 years ago | (#37497474)

the people using them agree to pay for the damage they cause.

Re:only if (1)

TheCouchPotatoFamine (628797) | about 3 years ago | (#37497758)

a) they don't cause significant damage. Obvious: ozone layer is not widening. b) if they want to do this MAKE ALBUTEROL OTC!

Re:only if (1, Troll)

publiclurker (952615) | about 3 years ago | (#37497828)

It might surprise you to know that they have banned a number of other things that use CFC's, hence the repair of the ozone layer. that doesn't mean that other people should be allowed to continue to spew it out, no matter how self-entitled they may feel they are.

Re:only if (1, Insightful)

xstonedogx (814876) | about 3 years ago | (#37497866)

-1, Irrelevant

No one is surprised that other CFC devices are banned. We're talking about devices that save people's lives, not hair spray.

Re:wrong calculation (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37497500)

"the government pay" ? ? ? ...uh that's me. Joe Citizen. I don't have asthma. I kinda like keeping my own money, you know, for buying my own stuff.

Re:wrong calculation (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 3 years ago | (#37497548)

Right, because asthma is so trendy that we've all gone out and gotten it.

It's one thing to charge people for the side effects of their own decisions and quite another to charge people for something they were born with. Ultimately, I'd be more than happy to subsidize these for other people, because I wouldn't need it myself.

Re:wrong calculation (0)

xstonedogx (814876) | about 3 years ago | (#37497982)

Right or wrong, you have that backwards.

An expense that someone suffers due to a physical infirmity is not "charging people." Someone provides them with a service or product that they need and expects to be compensated in return.

What you are suggesting is charging Paul to pay for Peter rather than having Peter pay his own way. There may be some value in subsidizing keeping people alive, but that's a political conversation I sure as hell don't want to have on /.

Reducing competition through regulation (1)

kidsizedcoffin (1197209) | about 3 years ago | (#37497422)

And the pharmaceutical companies that patented the new "environmentally friendly" inhalers didn't do any lobbying on the issue I'm sure.

Re:Reducing competition through regulation (3, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 years ago | (#37497610)

Since this has been the plan for YEARS NOW, I don't think you're correct.

The lobbying was in delaying the change.

But hey, don't let facts and common sense stop you from using a pop culture fad belief as an excuse to rant.

What is the impact of those inhalers? (1)

guruevi (827432) | about 3 years ago | (#37497466)

It may be an outrage to you but is it justifiable if you look at the big picture? Sure some may die because of these decisions but how many more die indirectly from producing and releasing these gasses?

Re:What is the impact of those inhalers? (2)

TheCouchPotatoFamine (628797) | about 3 years ago | (#37497776)

gee, one you can count, the other you can't. And by the way, as an asthma sufferer, fuck you. Try sleeping when breathing through a straw, see how it feels. This is a money grab by those with a prescription pad. Otherwise, why not produce Ephedrine OTC inhalers with environmentally friendlier gasses? Oh right, money.

Very Old News (4, Informative)

nbetcher (973062) | about 3 years ago | (#37497488)

This is actually extremely old news. A treaty was signed over a decade ago to ban various uses of CFCs in phases. The OTC epinephrine inhalers were pulled off of the market by the manufacturer some time ago due to a different reason (which I forget), then they decided to not restart production on it because CFC inhalers would be banned as of 1/1/2010.

Anyone that has asthma will tell you that things dramatically changed for them in 2010 when their old albuterol (fast-acting, for emergencies) inhalers were reformulated to not include CFCs (dubbed HFA, aka Hydrofluoroalkane) . Most HFA-using patients state that they cannot "feel" the aerosol or that it doesn't work nearly as well as the CFC-based ones.*

Point being, CFC inhalers haven't been around for a couple of years and we knew they were going away over a decade ago!

(*From my professional experience.)

Re:Very Old News (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 3 years ago | (#37497582)

Oh, so that's what happened. I noticed that the inhaler I got about that time didn't seem to be doing anything. At least not during inhalation. I remember back during the 80s that it was a lot more obvious that I was getting medicine than it is these days.

I also noticed that the inhalers don't seem to last as long as they used to. Not sure if that's at all related, but I find lately that invariably when I need an inhaler it's gone bad because I haven't used it in a few months. Which was never a case when I was a kid.

Re:Very Old News (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 3 years ago | (#37497954)

Oh, so that's what happened. I noticed that the inhaler I got about that time didn't seem to be doing anything. At least not during inhalation. I remember back during the 80s that it was a lot more obvious that I was getting medicine than it is these days.

I also noticed that the inhalers don't seem to last as long as they used to. Not sure if that's at all related, but I find lately that invariably when I need an inhaler it's gone bad because I haven't used it in a few months. Which was never a case when I was a kid.

I haven't noticed any change in the spray, but they sure as fuck self deplete faster, which sucks because I get a 6 month supply to SAVE money, only to have them all be dead, new out of the box, in 3 months.

Re:Very Old News (1)

bosef1 (208943) | about 3 years ago | (#37497686)

That was my first thought as well. We've known that CFCs were going to be phased out of medical applications for several years (see the wikipedia page on albuterol [salbutamol] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salbutamol [wikipedia.org] ). It sounds like the cost issue is related to patents on CFC-free albuterol inhalers, so there's minimal market competition to bring the price down.

One of the questions that I have, and that has been posed by several other poster, is why epinephrine inhalers cannot be formulated to use non-CFC propellants. The trick could be that the aforemetioned patents cover all FDA-approved non-CFC inhalers, so no-one has moved to make a compliant product until they had to.

It also sounds like several of the patents were set to expire in 2012, so this could quickly become a non-issue.

Re:Very Old News (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37497728)

The treaty was signed, yes, but it was NEVER ratified by the U.S. Senate and therefore carries no legal weight. This is another example of administration bureaucrats enacting law without legal authority to do so.

Re:Very Old News (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37497750)

I totally agree. I am so sad my old inhaler ran out of medication. What I really want to know is if the CFC's from just the inhalers really have that much effect. I also don't like the fact they are telling me it works just the same, when I FEEL it in my lungs and how well I can breathe. But, honestly, if the inhaler isn't working well enough, it does provide me enough time to get to my own nebulizer and so it really doesn't effect me that much except the time for the neb.

Re:Very Old News (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37497878)

Strange. I am familiar with something similar, because I use an electronic cigarette. Us e-smokers have a term, "throat hit," for the sensation you get on the back of the tongue and throat when you inhale the vapor. Most people want a good amount of TH because it's more similar to smoking a real cigarette. Some people choose their brand of nicotine liquid based mostly on the throat hit provided. In fact some people report being able to drop the nicotine completely if they have some other way of introducing TH. People do this though various methods -- ethanol in the liquid, some people even use hot pepper extract. Among e-cig smokers it is well known that this is a very strong psychological effect which can actually make or break your e-smoking experience.

It sounds like a joke, but if the back-of-the-throat sensation is what is lacking perhaps you could introduce something that would make that a little more noticeable. I have no doubt of the psychological power involved here, I experience it myself.

Re:Very Old News (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37497972)

When I got my first HFA 4 years ago, my asthma had been under control for about 7 years. By that I mean, the only asthma / allergy related medicine I needed was my inhaler before exercise or maybe once a month for emergencies. Shortly after starting the HFAs, which I was told was my only option at the time, my asthma started to get worse and I developed a persistent cough. Now, after trying multiple medications, it's under control again, but to keep it under control I take an allergy pill and Symbicort in the morning, nasal spray twice a day, and my HFA once or twice a day. My medical costs for asthma went from about $40 a year to around $1000 since my insurance doesn't do much to cover Symbicort. Also, for everyone who says the new medicine is better for the environment, I can't imagine that the environment impact of my new regime is less than 3 inhalers a year.

propellant versus drug (2)

Montressor (34631) | about 3 years ago | (#37497492)

TFA doesn't explain why changing the propellant chemical means that the active medical ingredient has to change as well. Why can't epinephrine be delivered via a non-CFC propellant?

Re:propellant versus drug (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37497722)

It doesn't have to change. However, it has to pass FDA approval with the new propellant, which is an expensive process. Since epinephrine is non-prescription (hence cheap) no company is willing to bear this expense.

The cost is not the worst problem (1)

spike2131 (468840) | about 3 years ago | (#37497520)

Alternative albuterol inhalers cost almost three times as much as the $20 epinephrine inhalers sold by online retailers."

The worst part is that epinephrine you can get any time you want (like, say, in the middle of an asthma attack), but albuterol requires a prescription, which means schlepping to a doctor with all the associated costs and inconveniences.

Albuterol works a lot better, sure, but sometimes - when you need an inhaler and you need it NOW - its nice to know the good old Primatine Mist is available over the counter at the nearest drugstore.

 

Why Prescription? (1)

djl4570 (801529) | about 3 years ago | (#37497538)

Albuterol inhalers have been around for over twenty years. The patents are lapsed. Does anyone know why albuterol inhalers are prescription only?

Re:Why Prescription? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37497642)

The patents are lapsed. Does anyone know why albuterol inhalers are prescription only?

Patents have nothing to do with prescription. Hell, Merck, Pfizer and friends would love to sell you anything you want with no doctor required.

I believe it's the FDA that controls whether or not something is prescription-only or not. And a piss poor job of it they do - how I envy Canadia and their common sense.

Re:Why Prescription? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37497684)

Does anyone know why albuterol inhalers are prescription only?

Pharma and the AMA have both lobbied for this. It costs more it obtain the same thing via prescription. More billing opportunities for doctors/hospitals. Higher prices for the pharma companies.

The environmental rational behind this is a smoke screen. The most efficient way to effect policy change in the US is to conflate your agenda with 'saving the environment.'

Re:Why Prescription? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about 3 years ago | (#37497720)

Abuse [emedtv.com]

Re:Why Prescription? (1)

causality (777677) | about 3 years ago | (#37498000)

Abuse [emedtv.com]

Yes. We all know that requiring a prescription has prevented the abuse of other drugs such as oxycodone (Oxycontin). When that was made prescription-only, all the drug abusers and recreational users just gave up and admitted defeat.

Re:Why Prescription? (1)

causality (777677) | about 3 years ago | (#37497862)

Albuterol inhalers have been around for over twenty years. The patents are lapsed. Does anyone know why albuterol inhalers are prescription only?

Because in the "land of the free" we really hate the idea that adult people might decide for themselves what goes into their own bodies. That's what it boils down to.

If it were my decision to make, you could get just about anything over-the-counter that you like with no questions asked. The reason you'd still go to a doctor is because it's a really good idea and you'd be a fool not to seek good professional advice about important medical issues, not because someone threatens you with jail for circumventing a system.

The main role the FDA should have is to ensure honest labeling, i.e. that when you buy a drug, it is what it says it is and contains no harmful impurities. A secondary role would be continuing to require clinical trials before a company may make positive claims of efficacy for a given substance. But in the absence of such claims, there's no good non-nanny-state reason why an adult person should not be able to purchase and consume whatever he or she wants and then bear the consequences.

Re:Why Prescription? (1)

bdenton42 (1313735) | about 3 years ago | (#37498006)

Patents have nothing to do with prescription. While albuterol is no longer patented, the HFA delivery mechanism is, and that is apparently enough to demand "brand name" prices. I used to pay $5 copay on something that cost $10 or so, now I'm paying $20 copay on something that costs $55 or so. I think it was just a convenient excuse by pharma to get another bite on the patent apple.

These patents appear to expire in 2014 - http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect2=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&d=PALL&RefSrch=yes&Query=PN%2F5605674 [uspto.gov] and 2015 - http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect2=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&d=PALL&RefSrch=yes&Query=PN%2F5766573 [uspto.gov]

I say we ban the EPA (-1, Troll)

scottbomb (1290580) | about 3 years ago | (#37497550)

Nevermind Watergate. The worst thing Nixon did was create the EPA.

Re:I say we ban the EPA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37497694)

We're getting deep into ecological debt as it is. Do you really want us to live as a bunch of locusts until the planet is bare and we all die?

Re:I say we ban the EPA (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about 3 years ago | (#37497746)

Yeah, and that Clean Water Act. Awful. Lake Erie was quite beautiful aflame.

Re:I say we ban the EPA (1)

trout007 (975317) | about 3 years ago | (#37497884)

Plus now all the people there that used to have jobs are unemployed so they the time to enjoy the lake.

Why do the alternatives have to be prescription? (1)

tirk (655692) | about 3 years ago | (#37497572)

OK, ban the CFC propelled inhalers, fine. But why do the alternatives only have to be prescription? What is in them that makes it that you still can't create cheaper over the counter versions? If it's a patent issue then I'd think the government would have the intelligence to release such a patent for the good of the people. But that's not going to happen since getting a seat in the government means taking money from corporations, one wouldn't want to upset your path into office. But then us sheeple just vote for the candidate that spends the most on advertising. How many people actually research candidates (not the rheteroic they produce, but the history of votes and actions they have done). Sorry, I'm getting off topic, my on topic comment really is just that the real issue isn't the ban itself, but the lack of inexpensive over the counter alternatives. Are there really just no other options then a CFC propellent for an over the counter inhaled propellent? Use nitrous oxide, let them enjoy the asthma medicine at the same time.....

Make up your damn minds! (1, Troll)

BitHive (578094) | about 3 years ago | (#37497590)

From TFA:

The action is part of an agreement signed by the U.S. and other nations to stop using substances that deplete the ozone layer, a region in the atmosphere that helps block harmful ultraviolet rays from the Sun.

So now that global warming has been exposed as a fraud we're supposed to be scared of the Sun as well? Leave it to tree huggers to care more about ozone, which is poisonous, than human life.

I don't know about you but I'm perfectly capable of purchasing sunscreen. For the amount of money I'd save with the tried-and-true inhalers I could probably buy enough sunscreen to protect myself from this so-called "ultraviolet" light for a decade or more.

I am continually amazed that people want the government to pass laws in the name of environmental protection -- if someone is polluting your air or water you don't need to call the EPA, you should be exercising your individual property rights the way our founding fathers intended.

Re:Make up your damn minds! (1)

Cyberax (705495) | about 3 years ago | (#37497790)

"So now that global warming has been exposed as a fraud we're supposed to be scared of the Sun as well? Leave it to tree huggers to care more about ozone, which is poisonous, than human life."

I have a wonderful UV lamp that I use to disinfect stuff. Would you care to sit a few days under it?

Re:Make up your damn minds! (1)

maxume (22995) | about 3 years ago | (#37497794)

Satire?

Re:Make up your damn minds! (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about 3 years ago | (#37497804)

I... I... I don't know. Earth-shattering irony? Ignorance on an epic scale? Someone help me out here.

Re:Make up your damn minds! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37497922)

He put quotes around "ultraviolet." He's joking. No one is THAT stupid and understands how to use so-called "quotes."

Re:Make up your damn minds! (1)

SuperAbe (264159) | about 3 years ago | (#37497806)

I actually can't tell if this is a Poe [rationalwiki.org] or not.....oh, wait....did I just Poe myself? (And are recursive Poe's even redundant?)

Re:Make up your damn minds! (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 3 years ago | (#37497840)

The ignorance displayed in your post is stunning. Harmful UV rays harm a lot more than just human beings. It impacts plant life and other animals as well, and in a very negative way.

Re:Make up your damn minds! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37497994)

I'm fairly certain the GP is being ironic.

primatiene mist if having an attack (1)

mrflash818 (226638) | about 3 years ago | (#37497604)

Oh great.

I used to be able to count on getting to any 24hr pharmacy (and most local 24hr supermarkets) and purchasing Primatene Mist (or an equivalent) if suffering an asthma attack.

So now I have to stock up on the works-less-well-for-me albuterol from a doctor's prescription? And if I am out have to run to the ER to get the now-only-available-by-prescription medicines? (Yes, yes: In a perfect world I would never run out, and always have a Rx solution on hand, but sh*t happens.)

Not. Happy.

I would rather they simply switch from a CFC propellant to something else, and keep such medicines as over-the-counter and CFC free.

Cost falls with mass production, life improves (2)

retroworks (652802) | about 3 years ago | (#37497670)

The cost of unleaded gasoline was astronomical in the early 1970s - because unleaded gasoline was produced in relatively small batches and could not compete at scale with leaded gasoline. When leaded gasoline was banned, we were all told that we'd be paying more for gasoline. In fact, the price of unleaded gasoline production fell. The important thing is that the mean blood lead level in 1975 was 15.5 g/dl. The mean blood lead level today is less than 2g/dl. Urban IQs are rising. What does this mean for phasing CFCs out of inhalers? I don't know, but the people who scream every time a new technology has to make transition to scale tend not to make the world any better.

My costs went up substantially, and less effective (5, Informative)

assemblerex (1275164) | about 3 years ago | (#37497734)

The new inhaler with no insurance? $60. Before? $30
Less pressure, not as effective in getting the meds to my lungs.
I now order them from mexico, same old good stuff that works.

OK that article is a canned article (4, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 years ago | (#37497780)

being propagated through the media. Probably written by some anti regulation type; or it's plain shoddy 'reporting'.

a) There is a non- CFC primatine mist coming out.

http://www.empr.com/update-on-primatene-mist-discontinuation/article/208381/ [empr.com]

b) this has been a phased roll out since 2008

c) albuterol was the first to be regulated to be CFC free.

d) The corporation the make CFC products stalled in making a replacement in order to maximize there profits, and probably to make regulation seem bad.

e) the only impact CFC inhalers, not over the cuonter inhalers. So you will see OTC inhalers, probably soon.

Whoever wrote that article should be slapped up side the head for sowing discontent in the populace with factual lies.

Re:OK that article is a canned article (2)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 3 years ago | (#37497858)

a) There is a non- CFC primatine mist coming out.

http://www.empr.com/update-on-primatene-mist-discontinuation/article/208381/ [empr.com] [empr.com]

That article says, 'pending FDA approval'. Last article I read said the FDA was going to require an [expensive] clinical trial before approving it, and the manufacturer didn't have the revenue stream to support that. But, good for them for making it FDA's problem. If the FDA has backed down, good for them.

e) the only impact CFC inhalers, not over the cuonter inhalers. So you will see OTC inhalers, probably soon.

Hrm? Primatine Mist is OTC and CFC. Clarify please?

other issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37497874)

We're hitting this up? I feel like there's much bigger fish to fry. Fuel used by ships in international waters is pretty much a free for all. I bet one ship, hitting a headwind once throws more crap into the atmosphere than all the inhalers in the US combined for a year.

More patent nonsense. (1)

whoever57 (658626) | about 3 years ago | (#37498022)

The high price of the albuterol inhalers in the USA is due to the control of manufacturing of the propellant by the patent holder. Albuterol inhalers sold in India and made in Australia by well-known brands cost about $2 becasue they don't care about the CFC in the propellant.
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