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Asthma Inhalers Go Green

September 11, 2008, 4:01 PM by Kelli Grant

Asthma Inhalers Go Green
Doctors write out more than 50 million prescriptions for asthma inhalers every year.  But, those so called rescue inhalers are changing. 

Asthma inhalers are going green, and patients have to switch by the end of the year.  But the new inhalers are already on the market and most manufacturers have already made the change.  That means patients may already have the new inhaler and not even realize it. 

Many patients carry a rescue inhaler in case of an asthma attack---that's when the lungs become inflamed and tighten up, making it hard to breathe.  A medicine inside the inhaler called albuterol helps relax and open up the airways. 

Dr. Cliff Bassett with NYU Medical Center says, “Albuterol is the bronchodialater, it’s not going anywhere. It’s the same drug---the same effect.” 

What's changing is the chemical that propels or pushes albuterol into the lungs.  It's called CFC, and the government is getting rid of it because it can damage the ozone layer.  In its place: a new environmentally friendly propellant called HFA. 

People are being encouraged to talk to their doctors, because unlike the old inhalers the new ones may need to be cleaned regularly so they don't get clogged.  Patients who already use the new inhaler say while the spray is not as forceful, it's works just as well. 

Asthma patient, Rochelle Doctor says, “Slightly different taste.  It’s not a bad taste. It’s just a slight medicine taste.”
The bottom line---experts say the new inhalers are just as effective as the old ones at stopping an asthma attack.

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