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Dear Ones:This morning, I perused an FDA alert that certain asthma inhalers will be phased out:
"Asthma and COPD Inhalers That Contain Ozone-depleting CFCs to be Phased Out; Alternative Treatments Available"
Let me first comment that the phrase "Alternative" Treatments' has NOTHING to do with the Alternative Medicine I use to help others. In the context above, "Alternative" means 'other pharmaceuticals'. Check out this FDA link of soon-to-be-discontinued asthma inhalers:
The chlorofluorocarbons (CFC's) under discussion are simple hydrocarbon derivatives of methane and ethane and they contain (bear with me here) chlorine and fluorine atoms.
The CFC's under discussion here are the last 'hold outs' still allowable for use, since they are for 'medicinal use'. Unfortunately, this in no way makes the 'medicinal CFC propellants' in asthma inhalers safe in any way, contrary to what physicians and pharmaceutical manufacturers will tell you. Trust me, I know only too well of the unknown dangers of many organochemicals from my many years as a chemist awash in...well, nevermind for now, it'll make a good story for later.
The CFC debate is a tricky one I will now explain. CFC's are very stable compounds. This means that under 'ambient conditions', the things just will not break down. A medical myth that's been around for millennia is the mind set which promulgates the following: 'If it's natural and stable, it's safe in all the medicines it's found in".
Coal is 'natural and stable', but in dust form in the lungs, it proves deadly as it accumulates. Silica is both 'natural and stable', yet collections of that dust in the lungs results in life-threatening 'silicosis'. While these are two dust examples, chemical gases also can be 'natural and stable' and detrimental to one's health, when in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The tragic practice of 'huffing' illuminates this. People, mainly young people, will 'huff' the contents of various compressed gases in order to 'get high'. One popular item is the compressed gas can sold at stationers used to clean computer equipment. The 'high' is achieved at a great cost: air is displaced in the lungs by the propellants in the can and the body achieves a kind of euphoria attendant to 'near asphyxiation'. In other words, a person's oxygen is 'cut off' and the body secretes endorphins which help ease the pain of 'air starvation'.
Huffers will repeat this time and time again, eventually suffering from permanent lung and brain damage--a tragic situation, indeed. The inhalation of these propellant gases causes dizziness, loss of consciousness, cardiac arrhythmias, and can totally cut off a person's air supply like that! Ironically, asthma inhalers have the potential to do the very same things. If you don't believe, just look at the informational inserts in any of the asthma medications listed at the end of this piece.
We all know how cold compressed gases can be and desperate huffers have even suffered 'insta-freeze' of the lungs, by getting a full blast of propellant only. (Note to whipped cream can-to-mouth aficionados here) And we all know that about another CFC known as 'Freon', formerly allowed for use in refrigeration units and the deep chill this CFC can provide, and so I ask you...
Why would anyone put a refrigerant/propellant in an inhalable asthma medication device and tell everyone that 'it is safe'?
Well, it's not. I know from my own practice that asthma inhalers invariably 'fail' within the first two years of use. It's true and that's why asthma patients are constantly looking for 'new inhalers to try'. Surely, the 'active ingredient' is a factor, but I'd like to address the 'inactive ingredients' factor as pertains to 'inhaler failure'.
So you are lead to believe that your asthma inhaler's propellant is 'inert', 'stable', 'inactive' or something similar. But is it? Where does the CFC 'go' when you inhale it? Does it stay in your lungs? Do you 'exhale it'? Does it get into your bloodstream? These are questions you really deserve answers to and here's what you'll hear, followed by my take on things:
You're told that the CFC's in asthma inhalers still in use 'have a minimal effect on the ozone layer. WHAT THIS MEANS: Let's take an individual inhaler all by itself. Improperly disposed of CFC's don't do anything 'bad' until they get up high enough in the earth's atmosphere where they are bombarded by ultraviolet rays, freeing very active ozone-depleting chlorine ions. That's when CFC's are bad for all of us, not just asthma sufferers. Disposal of the many empty and partially empty or full inhalers is a different story and is a problem for us all.
You're told that your use of asthma inhalers will 'have a minimal effect on the ozone layer'. WHAT THIS MEANS: It's time to stop and think. Your lungs and body are retaining inhaled CFC's and sure enough, the more CFC's in your lungs, the better it is for the ozone layer.
You're told that the CFC's in asthma inhalers are nothing like Freon or Halon (a well-known fire suppressant which is toxic if inhaled). WHAT THIS MEANS: Asthma-inhaler users are too dense to realize that the little 'freeze' they get with their inhalers is due to a 'refrigerant effect' of the CFC's in it and they don't read the newspapers.
You're told that the amount of CFC propellant in your asthma inhaler is 'minimal' and you hardly get any in you anyway. WHAT THIS MEANS: You know how when your inhaler is either low or empty, you get a 'puffing sound' anyway? Well, this means you're inhaling the CFC propellant. Besides being NOT GOOD FOR YOU, you're also not getting needed airway help. So whoever is selling you this 'whopper' is really a bad egg.
You're told that you only need an inhaler temporarily. WHAT THIS MEANS: One way or another--either due to drug side effects, fear of relapse, or overselling of medical testing, exams, and pharmaceuticals, once you are officially diagnosed as an 'asthmatic' by the medical community, that's it. You've got asthma for life and 'you will need an inhaler'. This is not necessarily true, but it does provide some good job security.
You're told that ONLY an inhaler 'will help your asthma'. WHAT THIS MEANS: Your doctor is a hammer and you are a nail. Hammer, meet nail. Nail, meet hammer.
You are told that ONLY pharmaceuticals are effective in treating asthma. WHAT THIS MEANS: You will be 'on an inhaler' for the rest of your days, unless you are willing to do a little work and educate yourself. And that's why I am here. For those who are willing to read, I will help you in future articles.
But first, check out the information and brand listing below and see where you stand regarding this planned phase-out of CFC-containing asthma inhalers:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today announced, in accordance with longstanding U.S. obligations under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, seven metered-dose inhalers (MDI) used to treat asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) will be gradually removed from the U.S. marketplace. These inhalers contain ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which are propellants that move medication out of the inhaler and into the lungs of patients. Alternative medications that do not contain CFCs are available."
The phase out will include the following brands of inhalers:
Inhaler Medication Last Date to be manufactured, sold or dispensed in U.S. Manufacturer
Tilade Inhaler (nedocromil)
June 14, 2010
Alupent Inhalation Aerosol (metaproterenol)
June 14, 2010
Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals
Azmacort Inhalation Aerosol (triamcinolone)
Dec. 31, 2010
Intal Inhaler (cromolyn)
Dec. 31, 2010
Aerobid Inhaler System (flunisolide)
June 30, 2011
Combivent Inhalation Aerosol (albuterol and ipratropium in combination)
Dec. 31, 2013
Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals
Maxair Autohaler (pirbuterol)
Dec. 31, 2013
And don't forget to read my 'disclaimer'...my virtual 'mini-tome' at the bottom of this page, if you haven't before, thank you. Your health and well-being is of first and foremost importance to all who call themselves 'healthcare providers.
Let us work together to help you and your loved ones live very happy and healthy lives, come what may!
With Love in Christ,
Rev Barbara Sexton
"The Biblical Biochemist-Where Science Meets the Cross"