January 25, 2006
A popular over-the-counter asthma inhaler may soon be a thing of the past, that is because the FDA is considering pulling the inhaler and comparable products off the shelves.
Asthma suffers can get relief from an attack with an over the counter inhaler like Primatene Mist.
That could soon be coming to an end. An FDA advisory committee has voted to take the drugs off the market.
The inhalers release epeniphrine, commonly known as adrenaline. That opens up the restricted airways of an asthma patient.
"It helps open the airways but only a little bit, it makes people feel a lot better than they very often are," said Dr. Albert Huber.
However, Primatene is designed only for limited use and some patients may use it more than they should, which can lead to problems.
"It can speed up your heart [rate], your blood pressure. [It] makes you feel very, very nervous, and it has a lot of actions around the body," Huber explained.
Dr. Huber said having these products in stores allows patients to incorrectly self medicate, when they should be getting professional help.
"There's no question about it's effectiveness, but used in an unsupervised way, the entire public is at risk, and the FDA is well within it's bounds," he said.
But Wyeth, the maker of Primatene Mist, says taking it off the market would take it away from people who need it and who may not have prescription coverage.
Still, it's now up to the FDA to make the final decision. The FDA Advisory Committee has voted to pull the inhalers off the shelves, but more meetings may be held before the FDA makes their final decision.