Friday, September 23, 2011

EPA to Asthmatics - Suck It Up!

OTC inhalers to be phased out to protect ozone layer
Asthma patients who rely on over-the-counter inhalers will need to switch to prescription-only alternatives as part of the federal government's latest attempt to protect the Earth's atmosphere.

The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday patients who use the epinephrine inhalers to treat mild asthma will need to switch by Dec. 31 to other types that do not contain chlorofluorocarbons, an aerosol substance once found in a variety of spray products.

The action is part of an agreement signed by the U.S. and other nations to stop using substances that deplete the ozone layer, a region in the atmosphere that helps block harmful ultraviolet rays from the Sun.

But the switch to a greener inhaler will cost consumers more. Epinephrine inhalers are available via online retailers for around $20, whereas the alternatives, which contain the drug albuterol, range from $30 to $60.
In the interests of full disclosure, I had asthma as a child, and used such an inhaler regularly for quite some time.  It pisses me off for the government to restrict such a valuable and life saving product to stop a small fraction of the chlorofluorocarbon production. 

And anyway, the ozone hole is starting to recover without restrictions on asthma inhalers.

In an old post, econo-blogger Megan McArdle asks (and answers): "Why Don't We Have More Green Products?"

...when I look back at almost every "environmentally friendly" alternative product I've seen being widely touted as a cost-free way to lower our footprint, held back only by the indecent vermin at "industry" who don't care about the environment, I notice a common theme: the replacement good has really really sucked compared to the old, inefficient version. In some cases, the problem could be overcome by buying a top-of-the-line model that costs, at the very least, several times what the basic models do. In other cases, as with my asthma inhalers, we were just stuck.
I would think the answer would be obvious to such an economics type.  If a product was already the best, cheapest and greenest product for a particular application; it would be universally adopted for the first two reasons, and we would take its green properties for granted.  Only when a "green" product is not as cheap and as good do we need to be forced by government or guilted by the environmental movement into adopting it.

No comments:

Post a Comment