Right Wing Health Care Lie Of The Day: Ban On Asthma Inhalers

Many conservative sites are spreading a false claim today that the Obama administration is banning over-the-counter asthma inhaler over environmental concerns. In actuality, the ban on chlorofluorocarbon in inhalers was passed in 2008 when George Bush was president. Since that time the manufacturers of virtually all inhalers have switched to the more environmentally-friendly hydrofluoroalkane as the propellant. Epinephrine inhalers using chlorofluorocarbon have been an exception.

On the one hand, these ephedrine inhalers are less expensive than prescription inhalers. On the other hand, these over-the-counter inhalers are universally considered to be extremely poor choices for asthma treatment, being both less effective than prescription medications and having far more side effects. While the safer and more effective prescription bronchodilators are more expensive, their use should be minimized by asthma patients with the use of prophylactic medications such as inhaled steroids.  Regardless of their legal status, I had strongly advised my asthma patients not to use these products even well before the ban (which, once again, was passed under George Bush).

Update: The real problem is that many asthmatics have resorted to this type of treatment because of lack of health care coverage. Obama does deserve credit for addressing this problem.