The War On Citizens Getting The Medication They Need To Remain Alive And Breathing
Commenter MonicaP sent me this letter about a really disturbing recent experience she and her husband endured -- and luckily he did endure, but no thanks to the government:
I thought you might find my husband's recent experience trying to get Primatene Mist interesting. Primatene Mist was taken off the shelves as of Dec. 30, supposedly because it contains CFCs. The fact that the inhalers and pills were moved behind the counter several years ago because of meth fears has something to do with it, I suspect.
My husband was watching a football game with a friend when he began to have an asthma attack. His friend was watching his three small children that night, so my husband drove to CVS to get some Primatene Mist, not knowing at the time that it was no longer for sale. The pharmacy had it in stock, behind the counter, but couldn't sell it to him, and they didn't have any pills in stock. They suggested he go to another CVS and see whether they had the pills in stock. So a guy who was having clear problems taking in enough oxygen was forced to drive to another store (Walgreens, ultimately) to get the pills. Then they had him show ID and sign a form promising he wouldn't alter the drug before they would sell it to him.
My husband was lucky his asthma attack was relatively minor and that the pills he eventually got worked almost as quickly as the inhaler. Had the asthma attack gotten more serious while he drove around town, he would have been in trouble. Or he might have been forced to go to the ER when he could have easily treated himself at home. And now countless people are going to have to pay out of pocket or have their insurance charged for doctors visits for something that used to be as easy to get as aspirin and condoms.
We'e so afraid of people getting high that we're willing to let people die to prevent it. The CFC issue seems like a cop-out. I understand outlawing trivial uses, like in hairspray, but I'd think we could make an exception for something that saves people's lives.
If we decide to believe the government's story, it seems we'd rather protect the ozone from what has to be the minimal incursion of CFC's from asthma inhalers than let people keep breathing. From the FDA:
Why No More Primatene Mist? Primatene Mist inhalers use CFCs, which decrease the earth's ozone layer. This layer of the atmosphere protects us from some of the sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation, which can increase the risk of skin cancers and cataracts. The United States and many other countries have signed an international agreement to phase out CFCs and other ozone-depleting substances.
Ahron Sherman writes at The Daily Miner:
According to the Food and Drug Administration, discussion to phase-out CFC-based epinephrine inhalers started in 2006, and the FDA decided that Primatene Mist did not serve an essential health need.
Really? Tell that to MonicaP and her husband.
Manufacturers have been changing their inhalers to replace CFCs with an ozone-friendly propellant called hydrofluoroalkane, according to the FDA. The problem is that these types of inhalers are not available without a prescription, cost more and work differently.
Doctor Sam Ahn of the Asthma Allergy Clinic of Phoenix said the transition from CFC inhalers to HFA inhalers has been relatively smooth, despite the inconvenience felt by some.
The HFA inhalers are more expensive, he said.
Whereas Primatene Mist inhalers run for about $20 a pop, HFA inhalers containing albuterol can cost as much as $60 each.
The HFA inhalers have a lighter velocity spray than the CFC-based ones, Ahn explained. This causes many of his patients to think they are not getting enough of the medication. Despite the weaker spray, both types of inhalers administer the same dosage of medication, Ahn said.
Another consequence of the soft spray is that the HFA inhalers need to be cleaned every one or two weeks, Ahn said. This wasn't the case with CFC inhalers because the spray was forceful enough to basically clean the apparatus itself. People who have made the transition between inhalers tend to forget to clean them, which does alter the dosage, Ahn said.
"Overall, it hasn't been a bad transition," Ahn said.
Again, tell that to MonicaP and her husband.