Many in the health care industry, particularly respiratory therapists, are concerned about the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) efforts to ban ozone-depleting inhalers, said the American Association of Respiratory Care (AARC).

The impetus behind the ban comes from the Montreal Protocol and the Clean Air Act, which aim to phase out seven metered dose inhalers (MDI) by 2009. MDIs are a form of chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) propellants, substances in pressurized containers that deplete the ozone and damage the atmosphere. In this country, the FDA regulates all CFCs. Among the those the FDA deemed “nonessential” was the popular treatment of albuterol sulfate and ipratropim bromide used in combination, also known as Combivent.

The AARC said that the ban of Combivent could put 2 million COPD sufferers at risk. While it supports the eventual elimination of ozone-depleting drugs, AARC deemed that to take Combivent off the market without an effective substitute—which would be available in 2010 at the earlyest—would be a cost burden, create problems with patient compliance and enhance the risk of self-administration errors.

To read AARC president Toni Rodriguez’s letter to the FDA, visit the organization’s Web site.