CFC stands for chlorofluorocarbons, which is the propellant that is used to deliver the medication from the inhaler to your lungs. Although safe (for people) and effective, they are believed to be harmful to the ozone layer which protects the earth from the powerful rays of the sun. Hydrofluoroalkane, on the other hand, is the propellant used in the HFA-propelled inhalers and is thought to be more ozone-friendly.
So, if the HFA inhalers are safer to use and just as effective as the CFC inhaler, why, then, are people so angry? There appears to be as many answers to this question as there are minutes in the day.
Many people are claiming that the untoward side effects from using HFA inhalers are bothersome and even dangerous. Those who are allergic to corn have reported extreme shortness of breath and allergic type reactions to the ethanol used in several of the HFA inhalers. Users of the inhalers also say that the HFA inhalers clog more easily, taste funny and don't work as well. Visit the Consumer Affairs website for a more complete picture of common complaints about this product reported by consumers.
While many people are reporting annoying side effects, they are also finding that they do not get the same relief from the HFA inhaler as they do from their old, faithful CFC inhaler. The manufacturers emphasize that because HFA's deliver a finer mist than CFC's, this is often misinterpreted as the inhaler not working properly. The finer mist is supposed to allow for for greater absorption of particles by the lungs which should provide faster relief. But users say that this is simply not true, that in fact, they must take many more puffs off their HFA inhaler to get the same relief.
Another issue, especially to those without health insurance, is the cost. Like any new brand name, pharmaceutical product, HFA inhalers are quite expensive, ranging in price from $30 to $60. This is a big difference from the $5 to $25 that consumers paid for their old inhalers. In times of economic insecurity, the cost can be a matter of life and death, as those on a limited income may not be able to afford the price increase.
Only time will tell how this drama will unfold, but if you want to get involved by taking a proactive stance there are some things that you can do do in the meantime:
1. Sign the petition to keep your CFC inhalers from being banned.