Bye, bye, Primatene Mist!

If you’ve been using Primatene Mist to open your airways, your days of doing so are numbered. The product is being pulled from the market as of Dec. 31, 2011 — not because it doesn’t work, but because it’s bad for the environment.

Primatene Mist inhalers rely on chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) to propel medicine out of the inhaler so patients can breathe it into their lungs. CFCs deplete the ozone; the United States has an agreement with other nations to phase out their use.

In announcing the move yesterday, the FDA said the advance notice should give people time to seek alternative treatments for asthma. The notice cautions, though, that supplies could run out before the end of the year.

Primatene Mist is the only over-the-counter asthma inhaler on the market in the United States, so that means people who have come to rely on the product will have to use prescription medications instead. And — you could see this coming, couldn’t you? — those Rx products may cost more than Primatene, which goes for $16-$20 per half-ounce container plus a mouthpiece. (That’s good for 270 “puffs,” according to the Primatene Web site.) The FDA’s statement offers guidance for people who find it hard to pay for their new asthma meds.

The FDA further notes that some people using Primatene Mist may not in fact have asthma at all, though the package instructions say the inhaler is meant for use by people who’ve been physician-diagnosed with the condition. Consulting a doctor for a prescription will require folks to get a definitive diagnosis.

Do you use Primatene Mist? What do you think of its being discontinued? Do you plan to stockpile a supply?

This post has been updated since it was first published.