OTC Asthma Inhaler is off the Market

Primatene Mist is no longer for sale in the United States

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Now that it is 2012, Primatene Mist is no longer available for purchase. With no over-the-counter asthma inhalers, asthma patients must now seek prescription-based relief.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has phased out the only over-the-counter asthma inhaler due to Primatene Mist using chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

With no over-the-counter options, asthma sufferers now have to turn to possibly more-costly prescribed inhalers.

"Consult your physician about asthma treatments."

Primatene Mist was phased out due to the ozone-reducing effects of CFCs that are used to propel the medication out of the inhaler. Primatene Mist used epinephrine to help relieve mild asthma symptoms.

Almost every asthma inhaler now uses hydrofluoroalkane (HFA) as a propellant. HFAs are safe and do not deplete the ozone. The FDA announced the phasing out of CFCs in 2008.

While there are many other safe asthma options, there are no over-the-counter options that could be cheaper for an asthma sufferer. Alternatives for asthma sufferers include albuterol HFA inhalers, such as Proair HFA or Proventil HFA, which require a prescription.

The FDA advises asthma sufferers to seek recommendations from their physician about the best possible treatment option. Anyone with a breathing problem should go to a doctor for an accurate diagnosis.

Just because you have a breathing problem it does not mean you have asthma according to Badrul Chowdhury, M.D., Ph.D., director of FDA’s Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Rheumatology Products. 

For individuals who still have Primatene Mist, it is safe to use until the expiration date. 

Because of the higher cost of prescription medication, asthma patients should talk to their physician about any programs that can assist patients with getting medication. The company that manufactures the asthma inhaler may also have patient-assistance programs. Other options the FDA recommends include free clinics and public hospitals that may also provide medication assistance.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 3, 2012
Last Updated:
January 6, 2012