If you use the Primatene Mist Inhaler to control asthma symptoms, you will need to find an new medication before the end of 2011. Primatene Mist is the only over-the-counter asthma inhaler available in the United States. It contains the medication epinephrine and was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat occasional asthma symptoms.
The FDA has issued a statement that Primatene Mist will be discontinued by December 31, 2011 as part of an international agreement to stop the use of chloroflourocarbons (CFCs) and other chemical substances that can damage the environment.
Primatene Mist eases asthma symptoms by propelling the drug epinephrine into the lungs during an asthma flare-up, where it helps reduce swelling in the airways so air can move more freely. Primatene Mist uses CFCs to spray the medication out of the inhaler so it can be breathed into the lungs.
What are CFCs?
Chloroflourocarbons are chemical compounds made up of chlorine, fluorine, and carbon. They were originally used as propellants in aerosol cans. CFCs become harmful to the environment when they are carried by air currents into the stratosphere, which is the portion of the atmosphere approximately 30 miles above the earth. Ozone molecules in the stratosphere act as a filter to prevent harmful UV radiation from reaching the earth. When CFCs reach the stratosphere, energy from the sun causes the CFC molecules to break apart, which enables them to destroy ozone molecules. Countries around the world have agreed to phase out the production and use of chemicals that cause damage to the ozone layer, including chloroflourocarbons.
If you have been using Primatene Mist over-the-counter and have not been formally diagnosed with asthma, the first step in finding a replacement medication is confirming that you do have asthma. "There are many other safe and effective medications to treat the symptoms of asthma," said Badrul Chowdhury, M.D., Ph.D., director of FDA’s Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Rheumatology Products.