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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Combivent Respimat approved by FDA

A few years ago the FDA announced seven asthma medicines that will be taken off the market.  This created fear among many chronic lungers who use these medicines to manage their asthma.  Today, however, we get some good news, as the FDA has approved a new version of combivent called  Combivent Respimat.

That's one thing we chronic lungers hate is when a medicine we use to control our breathing is taken off the market.  Sure there may be other -- even better -- controller medicines on the market, yet if your current regime is controlling your breathing, you hate to change it.

Thankfully asthma and COPD patients who have relied on a medicine called combivent -- an inhaler that combines Albuterol with Atrovent -- will still be available.

The reason for the hang up here is that the FDA decided that inhalers that use the CFC propellant would be phased out due to fear this propellant destroys the ozone.  This created a conundrum for asthmatics because the CFC propellant was used to make our inhalers work.

Inhalers that were the most commonly sold were changed over to the new HFA propellant or remade as dry powder inhalers (DPI).

Yet this meant new patents and higher prices for our inhalers.  To many chronic lungers this caused a panic because a) they can no longer afford their asthma controller medicines and b) medicines they use will be phased out.

The company that made combivent decided to phase it's inhaler out and not make the change to HFA because sales of combivent were slowly declining due to newer and better asthma controller medicines.

For instance, spiriva is a far superior medicine to Atrovent, and it only needs to be used once a day instead of four times a day.  So based on this new wisdom combivent was being phased out by the natural process of supply and demand anyway.

So for this reason the company was going to phase the product out.  This, however, caused many COPD patients to panic.  Yet panic no more, because a new version of Cmbivent called combivent Respimat has been approved by the FDA.

This new medicine features a new and unique delivery device that does not use a propellant and is supposed to deliver a "softer" flow that assures greater distribution of the medicine to the lungs.  Spiriva is also available in this format in what is called the Respimat Spiriva inhaler.

I would imagine, however, that if a patient Respimat Combivent they will have to pay a high price for it, and I would imagine the price will not go down in the distant future because this medicine is no longer a top line COPD medicine.

Personally, I think spiriva (in any format) and Albuterol are far better options for the management of COPD and some cases of asthma.  If I were a doctor I would recommend these medications over combivent anyway.

Yet I still think keeping this medicine on the market is a good idea because it gives us lungers another option to manage our lung diseases.  I think the FDA did a wise thing by approving Respimat.

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