Certain Asthma Medications Discontinued

(June 17, 2011)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is gradually removing seven metered-dose inhalers (MDI) used to treat asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) from the U.S. marketplace. These inhalers contain ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which are propellants that move medication out of the inhaler and into the lungs of patients. Alternative medications that do not contain CFCs are available. These medicines contain hydrofluoroalkanes, are called HFA’s and do not deplete the ozone.

Aerobid ® is the latest CFC inhaler and will be discontinued as of June 30, 2011. Aerobid ® is a long-term control medicine that helps keep you from having asthma symptoms. It works by reducing the swelling in your airways. When your airways swell they narrow inside, making it hard to breathe.

In order for your long-term control medicine to work, you need to take it every day as prescribed, even when you are feeling well. If you are currently taking Aerobid ®, it is important that you talk to your health care provider before June 30th to find a new medicine that you can start taking right away to avoid worsening symptoms and keep your asthma in good control.

Click to learn more about asthma medicines.

Primatene® Mist, the only asthma medicine available over-the-counter, is also being discontinued and will no longer be available after December 31st, 2011. Primatene® Mist is a quick-relief medication that helps relieve asthma symptoms when you are having an asthma episode, or attack. Symptoms include shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing or a tight feeling in your chest. Since you never know when or where you may experience asthma symptoms, everyone with asthma should have a quick-relief inhaler with them at all times. It is important that you talk with your health care provider to find a quick-relief inhaler that is right for you.

Millions of Americans have trouble affording prescription medicines.  Fortunately, there are services available that can help.

If you are using Aerobid® or Primatene Mist, follow these steps to ensure you have the best replacement medicines to keep your asthma in good control:

  • Call your health care provider and ask for a 30 minute appointment.

    Asthma patients who spend as little at 30 minutes with a health care professional to develop a personal management plan are better able to stick to their treatment plan, and experience better symptom control, according to a study by a team of researchers at the University of California, San Francisco .  Get the most out of your next doctor visit by Making Your Medical Care Visits More Satisfying.

  • Create an asthma action plan.

    An asthma action plan is a written, individualized worksheet that lists your asthma medicines, their correct dosage and when to take them. It provides guidance on what to do when asthma symptoms get worse, and what to do during a breathing emergency. Click here to download an Asthma Action Plan (Español) that you can take to your next health care visit.

  • Learn how to take your medicine correctly.

    All asthma inhalers are not the same. To get the most medicine out of your new inhaler you may need to breathe-in (inhale) differently. Ask your health care provider to watch you use your inhaler to make sure you are doing it correctly.

  • Use a valved holding chamber or spacer.

    A valved holding chamber or spacer is a device that is placed on the mouthpiece of your quick relief inhaler. When used, they create “space” between your mouth and the medicine. This space helps the medicine break into smaller droplets. The smaller droplets can move easier and deeper into your lungs when you breathe in your medicine. There are several types to choose from and are available by prescription only, so ask your health care provider which device may work best for you.

Four of the seven medicines were discontinued in 2010: Tilade®, Alupent®, Azmacort® and Intal®. Combivent® and Maxair Autohaler® will be discontinued in 2013.

Study findings are published in the April 2009 issue of The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.