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Asthma and COPD Inhalers containing Ozone-depleting CFCs to be Phased Out

The US Food and Drug Administration has announced, in accordance with longstanding US 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 US 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. Patients using the inhalers scheduled to be phased out are required to talk to their healthcare professional about switching to one of several alternative treatments currently available. Until then, patients should continue using their current inhaler medication. CFCs are harmful because they deplete the ozone layer miles above the Earth that absorb some of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. The United States has banned the general use of CFCs in consumer aerosols for decades, and eliminated the production of CFCs in the United States as of Jan. 1, 1996, except for certain limited uses, such as MDIs. The CFC phase out is part of an international agreement to ban substances that deplete the Earth’s ozone layer. The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer and the U.S. Clean Air Act aim to protect the public health and the environment from the potentially negative effects of ozone depletion. Bans on products containing CFCs began in the late 1970s. The decision to phase out the products is the latest in a series of decisions related to the removal of CFC inhaler products from the market as required by the Clean Air Act. The agency proposed to phase-out the seven remaining products in 2007 and reached a final decision after reviewing more than 4,000 public comments and information submitted as part of a public meeting.

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