Primatene Mist Phase-Out

(September 30, 2011)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is phasing out metered-dose inhalers (MDI) that contain chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) from the marketplace. These medications are used to treat asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In 2008, FDA determined that Primatene® Mist will no longer be available after December 31st, 2011. FDA has approved safe and effective alternative medicines for people with asthma that do not contain CFCs. This determination was made under the specific terms of the essential medical use exemption of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments.

Patients who are currently using Primatene® Mist should see a health care provider to develop an appropriate asthma management plan and determine the best medication to manage their asthma.

Learn more about asthma medicines.

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

If you have questions about your asthma, call the American Lung Association HelpLine to speak to a nurse or respiratory therapist at 1-800-LungUSA.

Primatene® Mist is a bronchodilator sold over-the-counter that contains epinephrine, a medicine that opens the airways when you are having trouble breathing. The FDA recently asked the makers of bronchodilators to include warnings on their packaging to remind users that their blood pressure or heart rate could go up, which could increase the risk of heart attack, stroke or death when using a bronchodilator.

Many people with asthma need to be on both a quick-relief medicine and a long-term control medicine. Long-term control medicines help prevent asthma episodes by reducing the swelling inside your airways.
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.

Asthma 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 the long-term control medicine and quick-relief inhaler that are right for you. 

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

  • Find a health care provider that can help.

The Foundation for Health Coverage Education (FHCE) offers patient-friendly health coverage and prescription assistance resources through its website,, and toll-free 24/7 U.S. Uninsured Help Line 800-234-1317. After answering 5-basic questions, patients are presented with a personalized list of public health insurance options, complete with program contact information, monthly costs, sign-up checklists, applications, and special resources on where to find assistance with affording other asthma medications. FHCE has been assisting the American Lung Association since 2009.

  • Call your health care provider and ask for an extended appointment.

An extended visit will provide the time you need to develop a
personal management plan.

Asthma patients that have 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[i]. Get the most out of your next doctor visit by Making Your Medical Care Visits More Satisfying.

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.

  • Monitor your symptoms.

Monitoring your symptoms is an important step in controlling your asthma. Learn the four key symptoms that you should monitor to help you keep your asthma under control. Ask your healthcare provider if you using a peak flow meter can help.

  • 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.

Tilade®, Alupent®, Azmacort® and Intal®. Combivent® and Maxair Autohaler® will be discontinued in 2013.  


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