Two asthma inhalers left gasping for life

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Two asthma inhalers are being phased out, the Food and Drug Administration announced at the end of May.

The Combivent Inhalation Aerosol and the Maxair Autohaler both contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which are damaging to the environment. Most other inhalers using CFCs are already gone, the administration said.

The Combivent Inhalation Aerosol, used for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, will be discontinued after July. An alternative is the Combivent Respimat, which contains both medicines found in the aerosol —  ipratropium bromide and albuterol sulfate — but not the CFCs.

The Maxair Autohaler will not be available after Dec. 31. It contains pirbuterol, which is a bronchodilator and is used to treat bronchial spasms in patients with asthma or COPD. Alternatives include albuterol or levalbuterol. 

The most recent phase-out of similar treatments, at the end of 2011, was of over-the-counter epinephrine inhalers sold as Primatene Mist.

Residents with asthma or COPD who are using the Combivent Inhalation Aerosol or Maxair Autohaler should talk to their physicians about alternatives, experts say. 


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