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HFA Inhalers - Patient Information    Print Page

The medicine in your quick-relief asthma inhaler is staying the same, but the chemical used to "propel" the medicine out of the inhaler is changing. Talk to your doctor to transition now.

Your current inhaler may use CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons), which are harmful to the Earth's ozone layer. The government is requiring all inhalers to use HFA (hydrofluoroalkane) as a safe, effective, and environmentally-friendly alternative. 

It is important to speak to your doctor as soon as possible about making the transition to an HFA-propelled asthma inhaler.  

Download the free patient brochure ( English and Spanish) (pdf files). 

AAFA is a member of the US Stakeholders Group on MDI Transition

Why is the Transition Happening?

In order to protect the environment, the FDA issued a final mandate in 2005 requiring that CFC albuterol inhalers be entirely removed from the market by December 31, 2008. 

It wouldn't seem that the small amount of CFCs in a typical quick-relief asthma inhaler could pose a threat to the environment, but scientists remind us that these CFCs are exhaled intact into the atmosphere and make their way to the stratosphere, where ultraviolet light breaks them down and causes ozone depletion.  Return to Menu

Why Should I Transition?

The transition to HFA-propelled inhalers is a necessary step to protect the environment. Transitions from CFC to HFA quick-relief albuterol inhalers have already been successfully completed around the world, including Europe, Canada, Australia, and Japan.

There are a number of reasons why now is a good time to make this transition:

  • CFC-based inhalers are harmful to the environment.
  • CFC quick-relief albuterol inhalers will not be available after December 31, 2008.
  • HFA quick-relief albuterol inhalers are currently available and are the same medicine as the CFC-based version.
  • During this transition, manufacturers will gradually reduce their supply of CFC-based quick-relief asthma inhalers and increase supplies of HFA-based quick-relief inhalers.
  • Currently, HFA quick-relief albuterol inhaler manufacturers have programs for patients who need financial assistance to make the transition successfully.
  • Making the transition to an HFA-based quick-relief albuterol inhaler is a good opportunity to review your overall asthma management plan with your doctor.  Return to Menu

Questions to Ask Your Physician

When talking to your physician, take a few minutes to ask:

  • How can I transition to an HFA inhaler now?
  • What should I expect from my HFA inhaler?
  • In addition to my quick-relief inhaler, do I need a maintenance medication to manage my asthma?
  • Are my strategies for asthma-trigger avoidance up-to-date?  Return to Menu 
  • For more information about asthma treatment  click here  
  • For more information about asthma prevention click here   

What to Expect from Your HFA Inhaler

Even though your inhaler is changing, the medicine inside is not. HFA quick-relief albuterol inhalers are FDA-approved and are equally as safe and effective as your current CFC quick-relief albuterol inhaler. 

While the albuterol inside the HFA inhaler is the same as in the CFC inhaler, there are some differences between the two (such as taste and spray force) and you should anticipate this as you transition. For example, the sensation of the HFA spray will be less forceful than what you may be accustomed to with the CFC inhaler. Additionally, HFA inhalers have specific cleaning instructions that can be found within the information provided with the product or by asking your doctor.

Inhalers in Transition: What the Change to HFA Inhalers Means to You

Patients with CFC quick-relief albuterol inhalers should speak with their doctor as soon as possible to transition to one of the available HFA quick-relief asthma inhalers.  Currently Available HFA Inhalers

Tips for Successful HFA Inhaler Use

You should know that during this transition period, both CFC and HFA inhalers are on the market. However, because of supply and demand in your area, an HFA inhaler may not be immediately available. Talk to your doctor for more information.  Return to Menu

Review Your Asthma Management Plan

Asthma is a condition that requires daily management and focus, so use your next appointment with your doctor to discuss your current asthma treatment plan and ask about transitioning to an HFA quick-relief inhaler.

When you talk to your doctor about transitioning, think about whether you find yourself using your albuterol quick-relief inhaler more than twice a week. If so, your asthma may not be properly controlled and you and your doctor may need to re-evaluate your long-term maintenance plan and the need for other treatments.

Short-acting, quick-relief albuterol works to relax the airway muscles, but doesn't treat the other aspects of asthma inflammation. 

Additionally, the visit with your doctor is a good opportunity to ask about the most up-to-date techniques and strategies for avoiding asthma triggers. 

When you do transition to your HFA quick-relief inhaler, please make sure to monitor how your asthma responds and tell your doctor immediately if you think you're not responding the way you should. Return to Menu

For more information about asthma treatment  click here  
For more information about asthma prevention
click here   

 HFA Inhaler Cost and Assistance Programs

If you currently have prescription drug coverage through your employer or through Medicare or Medicaid, you will need to confirm the copay that applies to the HFA quick-relief albuterol inhaler. If you self-pay for your prescription drug coverage, the cost of your HFA quick-relief asthma inhalers may be higher than what you currently pay since there are no generic versions of HFA quick-relief inhalers. 

If you require financial assistance, contact The Partnership for Prescription Assistance by calling 1-888-477-2669 or see their  Web site for more information. Return to Menu


Patients needing further information on making the transition to an HFA quick-relief inhaler should contact the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) at info@aafa.org or by calling 1-800-7-ASTHMA.  Return to Menu



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