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Hurry Up and Die, Asthma Sufferers -- You're Wrecking the Environment!

twig's picture

As of December 31 of this year, people with asthma who use inhalers will no longer be able to buy over-the-counter versions. During the Bush administration, the FDA banned them, because they contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) that affect the ozone layer. Or at least that was the excuse.

Now the only option is to get a prescription from a health-care professional for a more environmentally friendly -- and more expensive -- version that uses hydrofluoroalkane (HFA).

Costlier inhalers mean millions of people will be priced out of the market, with serious consequences for their health. [emphasis added]

Such choices to forgo medication could affect more than just the patients themselves. “For example,” Hendeles points out, “in a pregnant mother with untreated asthma, less oxygen is delivered to the fetus, which can lead to congenital problems and premature birth.” And considering that the disease disproportionately strikes the poor, what seemed to be a good, responsible environmental decision might in the end exact an unexpected human toll.

So it's okay to drive a 6 mpg, 2-ton SUV to the doctor and pharmacy because strengthening other ozone-related clean air standards wouldn't "promote economic growth" -- at least not in the medical and pharmaceutical industries.

Comments

Submitted by cg.eye on

Primatene and other OTC compounds don't stop damage due to inflammation; steroids do. The alcohol base of Primatene doesn't do lung tissue any favors, either.

The point is that American medicine doesn't want to make asthmatics as capable of taking care of themselves as diabetics (where at least some states will allow insulin and syringes to be sold OTC). If big pharma and big medicine cared, they'd admit that at least putting albuterol on the OTC list would save lives -- but no one's fighting that battle, are they?

And if the cost of inhalers is tripling (or more), why the hell *not* include counter technology? It's already implemented with steroid inhalers, and albuterol is already a generic drug -- no manufacturer can take advantage of this, and still collect a premium on the new propellant formulation?

And having Medicare for All would make meds more affordable, as it would preventive care that could stop most asthma attacks....

twig's picture
Submitted by twig on

but it doesn't look like either one's going to happen.

The pharmaceutical companies have a patent on the new propellant system, so no one else can use it.

The whole thing's a swindle anyway, at least the "environmental" aspect:

"It's just absurd to think that this is anything that could have a measurable impact," says Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. "You'd be hard-pressed to find a law that raised costs so much for such a nonexistent benefit to the environment."