Asthmatics, listen up: a change is coming

If you use an asthma inhaler, a change is coming. Inhalers using gas harmful to the ozone will be completely phased out by the end of this year - December 31st.

Today KLTV 7's Danielle Capper met with a doctor and a patient about this upcoming change.

Deanna York has been using an inhaler on and off for 30 years.

"When my asthma flares up, that's when I use it. I carry it with me. I have one different places at home, I have one in the car, in my purse," said York on Tuesday.

She's used the same kind - Albuteral - for her treatment, but will have soon have to switch. Not her medication, but the type of inhaler her medicine comes in.

Dr. James Stocks with UT Health Center says by the end of this year, the last of the freon gas inhalers will be sold.

"Ever since we realized that freon was damaging to the ozone layer, affecting the skin cancer rates and things like that, there has been a worldwide push to eliminate freon both in our air conditioners and also in medication uses," said Dr. Stocks.

"The gas pushes the solvent in the medicine out in a cloud and you inhale it. The old gas used to be freon, and the new gas is called HFA."

With the new HFA gas, the spray comes out softer and often patients who switch, worry.

"They squirt it for the first time, and think, 'did I really get it? Ahh, I'll get another puff'," said Dr. Stocks.

Getting another puff is expensive, and Dr. Stocks warns his patients one is enough.

"It works just as well. The soft spray works just as well as the old hard spray."

Many asthma patients have already switched, but others like Deanna are still preparing to.

"I need to have my doctor order the right kind of inhaler for me, since these are going out of date," said York. "I have to get with the program and get my new one."

Dr. Stocks warns people not to stockpile the old gas inhalers, even though they're cheaper, because they won't work for long. The gas only has a short term shelf life.

Danielle Capper, reporting.