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Phase Out of Combivent Inhalation Aerosol - Questions and Answers

1. Why are Combivent Inhalation Aerosol inhalers being phased out?

Combivent Inhalation Aerosol inhalers are being phased out because they contain chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs, which are substances that harm the environment because they decrease the protective ozone layer above the Earth. 

Under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, the United States and other participating countries promised to make it illegal to make or sell substances that decrease the ozone layer, including CFCs, after certain dates.

Combivent Inhalation Aerosol uses CFCs as propellants (spray) to move the medicine out of the inhaler so patients can breathe the medicine into their lungs.

2. When will Combivent Inhalation Aerosol inhalers be gone?

Combivent Inhalation Aerosol inhalers cannot be made or sold after December 31, 2013. However, the manufacturer of the product, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, reports that Combivent Inhalation Aerosol will be discontinued in July 2013. 

3. Why is Combivent Inhalation Aerosol being removed from the market early?

The manufacturer, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, developed an alternative product, Combivent Respimat, and is transitioning patients early to ensure that the phase out is completed ahead of the December 31, 2013 date. Combivent Respimat does not contain CFCs.

4. What is Combivent Respimat?

Combivent Respimat (ipratropium bromide and albuterol sulfate) Inhalation Spray is a medication approved for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who are on a regular aerosol bronchodilator but continue to have bronchospasms and need a second bronchodilator. Combivent Respimat contains two different types of medicines that open airways in the lungs to help patients with COPD breathe better. These two medicines are the same medicines contained in Combivent Inhalation Aerosol. Combivent Respimat is a suitable alternative for patients who are currently using Combivent Inhalation Aerosol.

5. What should I do if I use a Combivent Inhalation Aerosol inhaler?

If you use a Combivent Inhalation Aerosol inhaler, talk with your health care professional about switching to an inhaler that does not contain CFCs because Combivent Inhalation Aerosol inhalers will be discontinued by the manufacturer in July 2013. If you are still using a Combivent Inhalation Aerosol inhaler on December 31, 2013, the last day the inhaler can be sold under the Montreal Protocol, you may continue to use the inhaler as long it has not expired. Check the expiration date, which can be found on the product and its packaging.

6. What other inhalers can I use for my COPD?

There are many other inhalers available in the United States that do not contain CFCs. Talk to your health care professional to decide which choice is right for you. To see some of the FDA-approved inhalers for asthma and COPD, visit the web page: Drug Treatments for Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease that Do Not Use Chlorofluorocarbons.

7. How can I find out more about the phase-out of CFC inhalers?

More information about the phase-out of CFC inhalers can be found on these FDA webpages:

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