Lunaya Pravda

27 April 2006

Here's to your health

Shortages of drug for asthma cause concern

The Food and Drug Administration ruled that inhalers containing chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) had to be gone by Dec. 31, 2008. CFCs, commonly used as refrigerants and propellants, have been banned in the United States for most purposes since 1996 because they deplete the ozone layer. But drug companies have been slow to respond.

Bomgaars said that until production of inhalers fueled by hydrofluoroalkane (HFA) -- a propellant that doesn't affect the ozone layer -- is ramped up, availability will continue to be a problem.

Sooooo, we're banning CFCs to protect the ozone, fucking over a bunch of asthmatics in the process. I'm sure each person struggling to find albuterol or pay for the substantially more expensive substitutes appreciates all that's being done to help protect their health. After all the lip-service from the beltway regarding environmental policy and the supposed public health benefits, I'm speechless at the irony of this move.

New formulations hitting the market cost about twice as much as albuterol with CFCs. At Bartell Drugs, for example, generic versions of albuterol products were in the low $20s. A comparable prescription with the new HFA is in the low $40s.

Dr. Jonathan Becker, an asthma/allergy board certified specialist at Northwest Asthma and Allergy Center, acknowledged that the eco-friendly products are quite a bit more expensive, but said the HFA products also "have the potential to better deliver medications."...

Bomgaars suggested that those taking albuterol should check with their physicians to see if they should be on it -- if it's still the appropriate drug for them. "Short term, as much as we hate to have people shop around, it may be necessary for them to call around and see if the product is available."

And how is it we can still be pondering the mystery of expensive health care?

I'd be curious to know just how much, by weight and by volume, the CFCs from inhalers contribute to overall CFC emissions. I'm betting it's not a significant percentage of either. Instead, this measure reeks of concern over public perception - that we must be "doing something" to save the environment and stop global warming.

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