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Tuesday 01 December 1998

Advances in metered dose inhaler technology with the development of a chlorofluorocarbon-free drug delivery system.

By: Ross DL, Gabrio BJ.

J Aerosol Med 1999 Fall;12(3):151-60

The impending phaseout of chlorofluorocarbon (CFC)-containing metered dose inhalers (MDIs) has challenged the pharmaceutical industry to rethink and redesign many components of the technology involved in delivering asthma medication to the lungs. Along with the emergence of the first formulation using the nonozone-depleting propellant, hydrofluoroalkane (HFA) 134a to replace CFC propellants, advances in drug delivery technology have improved the performance characteristics of the MDI itself. Although MDIs have remained the mainstay of asthma therapy for 40 years, MDI technology still presents challenges. Some of the shortcomings of existing CFC MDIs affect the reliability of dosing. These challenges have been addressed in the development of the first CFC-free beta-agonist for the treatment of asthma. Airomir CFC-free (salbutamol sulfate; 3M Pharmaceuticals, St. Paul, MN), which is currently available in over 30 countries and was recently approved in the United States (Proventil HFA; Schering-Plough, Madison, NJ), incorporates numerous design and technological improvements which together with the introduction of CFC-free propellants mark the beginning of the next generation of asthma therapy. Although the new generation of CFC-free MDIs incorporates several improvements in dose reproducibility, these changes should be virtually transparent to the patient switching from a CFC MDI to a CFC-free MDI. What may be noticeable is a "softer puff," which is the result of valve and actuator redesign. The taste of the new CFC-free product may also be a little different yet totally acceptable to users.

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