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Transition from Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) Propelled Albuterol Inhalers to Hydrofluroalkane (HFA) Propelled Albuterol Inhalers

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Run Time -- 00:08:05

 

Welcome to the Food and Drug Administration’s questions and answers on the transition from CFC propelled albuterol inhalers to HFA propelled albuterol inhalers.

I‘m Cindi Fitzpatrick from F-D-A’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

On May 29, 2008, we issued a public health advisory titled: National Transition from Chlorofluorocarbon Propelled Albuterol Inhalers to Hydrofluroalkane Propelled Albuterol Inhalers.

Albuterol inhalers that contain chlorofluorocarbons, also known as CFCs, will not be sold in the U.S. after December 31, 2008. Albuterol inhalers that contain hydrofluoroalkanes, also known as HFAs, will take the place of albuterol CFC inhalers. FDA is providing these questions and answers to help you understand the need for the change. Commander Catherine Chew, a Senior Health Promotion Officer in the Division of Drug Information, will be providing the responses.

Why are albuterol CFC inhalers being phased out? 
The phase out of albuterol CFC inhalers is due to an international agreement called the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone LayerExit Disclaimer. CFCs are harmful to the environment because they decrease the protective ozone layer above the Earth.

When will albuterol CFC inhalers be gone? 
Albuterol CFC inhalers will not be sold in the United States after December 31, 2008. The company that makes albuterol CFC inhalers is expected to stop making albuterol CFC inhalers before then. People who are using albuterol CFC inhalers should talk with their health care professional now about switching to an albuterol HFA inhaler. There are enough albuterol HFA inhalers for everyone who needs them.


What albuterol HFA inhalers are available?
There are three albuterol HFA inhalers with the active ingredient albuterol sulfate FDA has approved as safe and effective:

  • ProAir HFA Inhalation Aerosol,
  • Proventil HFA Inhalation Aerosol, and
  • Ventolin HFA Inhalation Aerosol.

FDA has also approved Xopenex HFA Inhalation Aerosol, an HFA inhaler with the active ingredient levalbuterol tartrate. This inhaler contains the active form of albuterol and does the same thing as albuterol.
Patients in the United States have been using HFA inhalers safely and effectively since 1998.


How are albuterol HFA inhalers the same as albuterol CFC inhalers?
Albuterol HFA inhalers are used in the same way as albuterol CFC inhalers and give the same dose of albuterol as the CFC inhalers. Albuterol HFA inhalers are safe and effective for the same FDA approved uses, the treatment or prevention of bronchospasm in patients with reversible obstructive airway disease, including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also known as COPD.
 

How are albuterol HFA inhalers different from albuterol CFC inhalers?
CFCs are used as propellants, also known as sprays, to move the albuterol medicine out of the inhaler so patients can breathe the medicine into their lungs. HFAs are a different type of propellant. The albuterol and levalbuterol HFA inhalers have a different propellant called hydrofluoroalkane, or HFA. Albuterol HFA and albuterol CFC inhalers may taste and feel different. The force of the spray may feel softer from albuterol HFA than from albuterol CFC inhalers. Each of the HFA inhalers is different. Albuterol HFA inhalershave to be cleaned and primed to work in the right way and give the right dose of medicine. Each HFA inhaler has different instructions for cleaning and priming. The patient information that comes with each inhaler tells you how to clean and prime your inhaler.
 

Why is cleaning and priming my albuterol HFA inhaler important? 
Cleaning the inhaler to prevent clogging and properly priming the albuterol HFA inhaler are very important to make sure that the medicine sprays from the inhaler so you can breathe it into your lungs. Each albuterol HFA inhaler comes with directions for washing, drying the mouthpiece, and priming. There are some differences between brands of inhalers, so you will need to follow the directions that come with each inhaler.

What should I do if I have problems with my albuterol HFA inhaler?
First, remember that the force of the spray from the albuterol HFA may feel different. Make sure you wash, dry, and prime the inhaler as described in the directions that come in each package. If you have problems using your albuterol HFA inhaler, talk to your healthcare professional as a different product may be right for you.

If the spray feels different, how will I know if my HFA inhaler is working in the right way?
It is important to remember that it is the deep breath that you take with each puff that gets the medication into your lungs, not the force of the spray. The spray from an albuterol HFA inhaler may feel softer than the spray from an albuterol CFC inhaler, but this will not affect the amount of drug that you breathe into your lungs. The spray from an albuterol CFC inhaler often hits the back of the mouth. The spray from an HFA inhaler is a fine mist that may actually be easier to breathe into your lungs compared to a CFC inhaler.

The HFA inhalers cost more than the CFC inhalers. What can I do if it’s hard for me to pay for my HFA inhaler?

  • First, talk to your healthcare professional about programs to help patients get the medicines they need.
  • Second, some drug companies have patient assistance programs that make medicines available to patients at no cost, or at a lower cost.
  • Finally, some patients may be able to get help paying for their medicines from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Is it safe to buy HFA inhalers over the internet?
Yes, but make sure you do it safely. The Internet makes it possible to compare prices and buy products without leaving home. But when it comes to buying medicine online, it is important to be very careful. Some websites sell medicine that may not be safe to use and could put your health at risk. For more information please see our guide: "Buying Prescription Medicines Online: A Consumer Safety Guide. Buying your medicine online can be easy. Just make sure you do it safely."

For more information on the Transition from CFC Propelled Albuterol Inhalers to HFA Propelled Albuterol Inhalers go to our website w-w-w dot F-D-A dot G-O-V slash C-D-E-R slash M-D-I slash albuterol dot htm

 

Date created: September 26, 2008