Allercy and Asthma Health
The Official Publication of AAN - MA

Primatene Mist Going Off the Shelves in December 2011

by Thomas Kallstrom, MBA, RRT, FAARC


Despite the fact that there are many safe and effective asthma medications on the market today, some people with asthma continue to rely on Primatene Mist inhalers when their asthma flares up. If you are one of them—or know someone who is—you should know that the days of picking up these inhalers without a prescription at the local drug store are coming to an end.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, Primatene Mist can no longer be made or sold after December 31st of this year. It is being phased out because it contains propellants called chlorofluorocarbons, or "CFCs" that harm the environment. The U.S. government has been slowly phasing out products containing CFCs for years.

As with any over-the counter-medication, having access to it without a prescription keeps people from visiting their doctor and gaining access to the kind of medications they need to control the underlying cause of asthma—airway inflammation. When airway inflammation is adequately controlled, most people have significantly fewer asthma flare ups and many have none at all.

In many doctors' offices, you'll also receive information on asthma triggers and how to avoid them. This would include an "asthma action plan" outlining what to do if symptoms do occur and instruction on using your asthma medications correctly.

The best thing to do is take the plunge and make that initial doctor's visit now, before the Primatene Mist inhalers are taken off the drug store shelves. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are some programs available to help with medication costs, and your health care provider should be able to help you find them. For example, some drug companies offer medication assistance programs for people who cannot afford to pay for their prescription medications. Assistance may also be available from government agencies. Again, don't wait, take care of this now so you will be able to breathe easy come December 31st.

Thomas Kallstrom is a registered respiratory therapist and serves as chief operating officer of the American Association for Respiratory Care in Irving, TX.

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