Clinics To Dispense Ozone-Friendly Asthma Inhalers
Community health clinics in California this week will begin distributing CFC-free asthma inhalers to uninsured and low-income patients, the Los Angeles Times reports. A federal ban set to take effect in 2009 will no longer allow pharmacies to sell inhalers that use CFCs, a propellant that damages the ozone layer.
The U.S. in 1987 signed a treaty to eliminate the production and use of ozone-depleting chemicals, but the American Lung Association and other health groups lobbied to exempt asthma inhalers to allow manufacturers enough time to develop new environmentally-friendly inhalers and give patients time to switch.
The new inhalers use hyrdrofluoroalkane, or HFA, to dispense a prescription drug into the lungs.
About 370,000 Californians with asthma are uninsured, according to the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
The pharmaceutical company Schering-Plough is donating 500,000 of its inhalers to 850 clinics nationwide, including 100 in California. The new inhalers will cost $30 to $60, compared with $5 to $25 for the older model (Engel, Los Angeles Times, 5/2).