To hell with the patients… save the planet! That's basically what the FDA said with its latest edict.
They just ordered a ban on inhalers that use CFCs (chloroflurocarbons) to push the medication into the lungs. But the ban has nothing to do with how CFCs affect the patients who use inhalers. It's because CFCs might harm… the environment.
The FDA is apparently concerned about the "environmental toll" of the legions of asthmatics who are damaging the earth's delicate atmosphere with millions of tiny puffs on their asthma inhalers.
So they're proposing new inhalers that they say are just as effective at delivering doses of medicine as the old reliable inhalers. Instead, they use hydrofluoroalkanes – which, apparently, don't damage the environ-ment the way that the CFC-based inhalers do (assuming, of course, that you actually buy into that non-sense, which I don't).
Don't be fooled. This move is more about pumping up the bank accounts of certain people and less about saving the ozone.
And guess who gets to foot the bill? Yup: the patients.
The new inhalers are A LOT more expensive than the older kind. A typical old-style inhaler of the common asthma drug albuterol cost just $10. Using the new inhaler, the price skyrockets to $40. You don't need to have asthma to gasp at that.
There are 20 million asthma sufferers in the U.S., and while not all of them require an inhaler for treatment, even if a third of them do, and they all have to pay an average of four times as much for the medicine that helps them breathe … well, suffice it to say that SOMEONE is making some cash off of this new FDA ruling.
All this "save the planet" stuff seems more and more like a shake down to me.
And for all that extra cost, I'd say you're not exactly getting what you paid for. The new, "save-the-planet" inhalers must be cleaned more often because they're prone to clogs. They also don't propel the medicines with the same force as the CFC inhalers, which could lead some patients to spray multiple doses because it won't feel as though the inhaler is working. Did I mention that the new inhalers also they require a different method to "prime" them in order to work?
So basically, these new inhalers are weaker, they require more care, and they're more complicated to operate. What could be better for a medicine that thousands of children might need to save their lives?
But hey… at least we're saving the planet!
As concerned as Dr. McCoy is that some of her pediatric asthma patients could be put in a dangerous spot by the switch to the new inhalers, she – like so many people in our society – have bought the idiocy of global warming hook, line, and sinker. She said of the new FDA regulations, "I think it's important for people to understand that it's a very important and necessary step for the preservation of the environment."
Right. While all manner of unregulated filth and toxins are pumped into the atmosphere every our of every day by hundreds of Chinese factories, we're going to prevent global warming by making life more difficult for asthmatic kids who might squirt a CFC-based medicine once a day.
To be blunt, these new regulations are moronic. And they're about making money for Big Pharma … "saving the environment" is just a convenient excuse for fleecing patients.
Dr. William Campbell Douglass, M.D.