The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said that users of epinephrine inhalers containing chlorofluorocarbons should switch to a replacement product, as these inhalers will not be made or sold after 31 December 2011.

The move follows efforts to comply with obligations made under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

Epinephrine inhalers, marketed by Armstrong Pharmaceutical under the trade name Primatene Mist, are the only FDA-approved prescription-free inhalers for the temporary relief of mild asthma symptoms.

The product uses chlorofluorocarbons to propel the medicine out of the inhaler so that consumers can breathe it into their lungs.

FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Rheumatology Products director Badrul Chowdhury said that anyone who relies on an over-the-counter inhaler to relieve asthma symptoms, should contact a healthcare professional to obtain a replacement medication to treat asthma.