I remember in the “old days” back in the 70’s, before most of you may have been born, Primatene Mist containing epinephrine, was a life saver as an OTC medicine for mild asthma. Why did it disappear from pharmacy shelves? Because it contained chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) as a propellant. As you know, CFCs were banned, and phased out of the market in 2011 in an effort to help protect the ozone layer under the Montreal Convention.
The newly introduced product contains hydrofluoroalkane (HFA) propellants that do not hurt the atmosphere, but has the same active ingredient, epinephrine. One of the other important distinctions of the new product is that it is indicated for children and adults 14 years of age and older, where the old version was labeled for use in ages 4 and up.
One other interesting factoid about the new product is that it must be primed each time before use with one shot or puff discharged into the air. The inhaler is also redesigned and it needs to be cleaned daily. The redesigned product also operates a bit differently, and thus, previous users should carefully read the instructions for use prior to first use.
Patients are advised to check with their doctor before adding this product to any regimen for asthma, and since asthma is a serious condition, patients should check with their doctor before using the new Primatene product. Primatene is the only OTC product available to treat asthma. Welcome back old friend. I hope asthma patients will be glad to see you again!
The complete FDA piece regarding the reintroduction of this OTC product can be found here.