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Call to Action: Switch to Ozone Safe Inhalers Creates Cost Burden for Families
Millions of patients had to switch their asthma inhalers to a pollution-free inhaler because of a federal ban on CFC (chlorofluorocarbons) used in inhalers. CFC is a pollutant that depletes ozone in the earth's atmosphere and contributes to global warming. The switch from CFC propelled albuterol inhalers to non-CFC alternatives, known as HFA (hydrofluoroalkane) inhalers went into effect January 01, 2009.
The switch to represented good news/bad news.
- The good news is that the switch is good for the environment because the new inhalers do not use pollutiants that contribute to global warming. Since ozone depletion contriutes to global warming and creates increased pollen which triggers asthma attacks and increases incidence of asthma, switching to the new ozone-safe inhalers is good news in the long term.
- The bad news is that by requiring ozone safe inhalers, the federal government has created a financial burden for children with asthma, thier families and patients who now must purchase more expensive replacement inhalers. This short term bad news will affect the cost of inhalers for several years until more affordable generic drugs become available.
- The good news for low income families with asthma is that all drug companies that make the new ozone-safe HFA inhalers offer assistance programs to patients. To see if you qualify, or for more information, call or contact Partnership for Prescription Assistance 1-888-477-2669.
The effects of the new HFA albuterol inhalers are similar to the now-banned
CFC albuterol inhalers, according to recent studies with children and adults. Some report that the 'puff' of the new inhaler is gentler and that the new inhaler feels 'cleaner.' The new HFA propellent leaves a residue on the inhaler, making it important to clean the plastic sleeve more often, and the inhalers must be 'primed' or pumped a few times before use, to ensure proper dosage. Over all, the biggest changes in the new inhalers are related to environmental impact, which is good, and cost increase, which is not. With prices more than doubling for some inhalers, BREATHE LA is concerned that some families may not be able to afford life-saving medications.
You can help. Ask your Congressional Representatives* to support more effective subsidies for the higher cost of HFA inhalers. Many of you already did.
In mid-2008, Congressional Representatives Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Cliff Stearns (R-FL) submitted a Dear Colleague letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Leavitt asking him to help by:
- Launching a nationwide awareness-raising and educational campaign about the transition
- Creating a process to monitor patients
- Placing the new inhalers at the lowest co-pay tier for Medicare patients to ensure they can make the transition without having to skimp on life saving medication.
BREATHE LA supporters took part in advocacy actions to alert congressional representatives to support the letter in honor of community members and loved ones suffering with respiratory illnesses in Los Angeles.
If you were one of those who took part, thank you! BREATHE LA would like to know how you felt about it. Take a moment to contact us to share with us any information you have that may be helpful as we work to ensure this critical message reaches our legislative leaders and our community.
Your support makes a difference! Thank you.