Over 25 million people in the U.S. rely on respiratory inhalers to relieve wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing and additional asthma-related symptoms. In an attempt to reduce their environmental footprint, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) placed a ban on the production of ozone-depleting inhalers.
This 2008 ban changed the type of albuterol inhalers available to asthma patients, and eliminated the use of inhalers with chlorofluorocarbon (CFC). These generic medications were replaced by the more expensive alternative that uses hydrofluoroalkane (HFA), a more environmentally friendly inhaler.
A recent JAMA Internal Medicine study found that this inhaler ban has been more costly, as the average asthma patient is paying twice as much for their medication. Health Talk turned to co-author of the study, Pinar Karaca-Mandic, Ph.D., from the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota to help explain the ban and its costly impacts on asthma patients.