Inhalers should stay on the market

Dear Editor,

I only just heard on the news that the FDA has banned Primatene Mist, effective December 2011. The FDA has determined that Primatene Mist is no longer considered “an essential product” that would be exempted from bans of ozone-depleting products.

Not an essential product? As an asthma sufferer I consider this to be a life-saving product! How much more essential does it get than that?

Asthma sufferers are instructed to “contact their primary care physician for a prescription alternative.” Since the prescription inhalers use hydrofluoroalkane-based propellants instead of the now banned chlorofluorocarbon-based propellants, I have to wonder why, rather than pulling Primatene Mist off the shelves completely, it isn’t simply reformulated to use to “approved” propellant.

Then it dawned on me. It’s not about “saving the environment,” it’s about the almighty dollar.

See, Primatene Mist is about $17, which is $3 more than it cost three or four years ago, whereas the prescription inhalers (which contain less inhalants than their OTC counterparts) are more like $40-$60 each plus the cost of the physical exam required every six months or so to get the prescription written.

I, personally, go through about two or three inhalers a month. Currently, that comes to about $650 for a full year. After the ban goes into effect, those same inhalers are going to cost $1,800, at least, in addition to the $2,000 for doctor’s office fees! Almost $4,000 for medication that used to cost $650!

There are people, myself included, who cannot afford that. So what are we supposed to do? I guess people, and the quality of life, isn’t as important as the bottom line. As long as doctors and the pharmaceutical companies are able to make a buck, that’s all that matters.

If this decision affects you, or even if it just bothers you, write your congressman, your senator, even the president! Let your voice be heard.

Derek Tombrello