Posted by kevvyg on Monday, May 04, 2015
May is finally here, and for many of us, it means a relative slowdown in the tree pollen that's been plaguing our nose, throats, and airways for the last two months. Personally, I'm just happy that here in Georgia, the wettest stretch of our spring landed right at the same time as pine pollen started dumping yellow-green dust all over everything. In addition to this welcomed news, May also kicks off Asthma Awareness Month.

GINA - World Asthma Day 2015Globally, it is estimated that as many as 300 million people suffer from and cope with asthma every day. While in the U.S. asthma affects about 8% of the population, asthma is a larger issue that recognizes no boundaries. (You can at least give credit to asthma for being and equal opportunity offender... thanks asthma.)

While the exact cause of asthma is still unknown and a cure seems to be some time away, asthma is a condition that can be successfully managed. Severity ranges from mild forms with occasional flare ups and specific circumstance asthma (like exercise or cold induced asthma) to more severe forms that pose potentially life threatening problems for those affected.

Management can also vary with severity, but one of the most effective treatment for long term asthma are inhaled corticosteroids. This type of medication suppresses inflammation by desensitizing the airways and suppressing the immune system's overreaction to often times harmless substances.

Beyond medication, avoiding triggers (tobacco smoke, pollen, mold, etc.), keeping track of unseen dangers like ground level ozone, learning to recognize the symptoms of an asthma attack or properly use a Using a Spacer for Asthma Treatmentspacers or nebulizers, and having a plan in place for coping with them are all pieces to this puzzle. Air quality is of key concern, as both poor indoor or outdoor air quality are often prime causes of asthma attacks.

Particularly for children but even for adults, the inability to breathe from an asthma attack can be a terrifying experience. Education and planning are key to avoiding and effectively dealing with asthma. So, whether it's and asthma run/walk, reading new literature, attending a conference/symposium, training for educators, or even the opening of a new asthma clinic, there are a variety of events scheduled to help raise awareness of asthma this month. From here in the U.S. to Peru, France to India, and Croatia to Egypt, around the globe events are scheduled to better connect people with the resources they need to better reduce the impact of asthma and breathe a little easier.

As a side note, while reading up on this, I found some disparity between May 5th and May 6th. Here in the U.S. the National Institute of Health is calling May 6th Asthma Awareness day, while globally, it is more commonly recognized as May 5th. Regardless, many clinics, organizations, and advocacy groups have events planned all month long, and organizations like the CDC, NIH, and others have information available online, whenever you need it.

Author: K. Gilmore

World Asthma Day is an annual awareness-raising event organized and sponsored by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA). For more information please visit

Posted by kevvyg on Thursday, February 19, 2015
Common Asthma Medications - CorticosteroidsThis week, we're going to take a look at medications, more specifically, the two classes of drugs most commonly prescribed for those coping with asthma. When it comes to asthma there is one basic, but large division, between treatment medications. Broadly, one type is considered a preventative while the other, a reliever. To help control asthma, a wide variety of anti-inflammatories can be prescribed. Each of which can reduce asthma attacks by reducing the swelling (inflammation) and mucus production in airways. This type of drug often makes airways less sensitive, thus less prone to asthmatic episodes. The second type of medication, bronchodilators, are often the reliever medications. Short acting forms of this class of drug can provide relief to asthma attack symptoms. While there are also long acting forms of bronchodilators than can also be used as a preventative, today we're going to focus on anti-inflammatories and more specifically, corticosteroids.

Corticosteroids are the most common preventative medications prescribed for asthma. This class of drugs mimics something that your body produces naturally, cortisol. In the body, cortisol helps to regulate, target, and limit inflammation. Inflammation is the body's natural response to a variety of intrusions from pathogens to allergens, but cortisol, and its synthetic counterpart (corticosteroids), suppress the immune response and desensitize airways. For asthmatics, this means airways that aren't as prone to react (or overreact) to asthma triggers, and remember, it is this overreaction (inflammation) that causes the difficulty breathing during an asthma attack.

Corticosteroids can be taken in a variety of ways, but the most common is inhaled. Highly effective, an inhaled corticosteroid is the most commonly prescribed class of drug for control and prevention of asthma attacks. Some examples of corticosteroids are beclomethsone, budesonide, flunisolide, fluticasone, and triamcinolone. These generic names are in many of the names you've likely used (if you or your child is asthmatic) or seen in ads.Latest Type of Corticosteroid - Dry Powder Inhalers (DPIs)
  • Azmacort®
  • Pulmicort®
  • Advair®
  • Flovent® HFA
This list is by no means exhaustive, but is mainly to introduce you to some of the brand names of the common corticosteroids. Often, this type of corticosteroid is taken via a metered dose inhaler (MDI), though in recent years, Dry Powder Inhalers (DPIs) have been developed and work without the use of a spacer. With either type, the medication is often taken once a day. The last method of delivery is via a nebulizer, but this applies to only budesonide.

In addition to inhaled corticosteroids, there are a few that are administered orally. While they often take several hours to begin working, oral corticosteroids, like prednisone, are generally used in conjunction with other medications to treat some of the most severe cases of asthma. Treatments can vary with oral medications like this from heavy, short doses, to more regular, lower doses.

With inhaled corticosteroids, there are a few side effects, and as with any medication, they can vary from person to person and by the dosage. Sore throat, hoarse voice, and thrush (yeast infection in mouth) are the most common side effects. The use of a spacer with these medications often reduces these, and rinsing after taking an inhaled corticosteroid seems to help many people. MDI - Metered Dose InhalerOral corticosteroids can often have a different set of side effects including acne, weight gain, and even mood changes.

This is only meant to be a quick primer to common asthma medications, what they are, and how they can help manage asthma. It is always a bit of a balancing act when it comes to getting the right dosage (side effects vs. adequate control of the condition), but often even small changes in dosage can make significant changes to both sides of this coin. And, with many asthmatics, dosage or even the medication itself can and likely should change with time. For many, it can be extremely beneficial to change medication or dosage, as the body often can try to normalize the effects of medication over time. So medication that used to properly manage your asthma may not work as well years down the road. As with any medication, for more information, please consult your doctor.

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Friday, January 09, 2015
Extreme Temperatures Spells Trouble For Those With AsthmaThe last few days have been like a sucker punch to much of the country. Extreme cold, and in some places heavy snow, have ushered in the new year in a way most of us would rather just forget. In addition to concern over the colder temperatures, the dropping mercury presents some specific challenges for people with asthma. Go outside, and the cold, dry air can often trigger an asthma attack. Stay indoors and increase exposure to indoor allergens, which are generally more pervasive during the cold months as most homes have little chance to air out when it's freezing. And when simply going outside can trigger an asthma attack, it all but rules out trying to exercise outdoors. So what options do you have? Here are a few tips to help reduce your chances of an asthma attack during these frigid days.
  • Dress Appropriately - Few things will cause you more problems than not dressing appropriately. Dressing Appropriately Is a MustIn addition to simply being uncomfortable, extreme cold temperatures can lead things like frostbite and hypothermia. Granted, these are extremes, but when a stiff breeze drives the wind chill well below zero, these become real concerns.

  • Wear a Mask - Whether going for a stroll or trying to exercise outdoors, breathing in cold, dry air is an almost instant trigger for asthma. The cold air coupled with the extreme dryness of cold air can be mitigated with a quality cold weather mask. Masks trap heat and moisture as you exhale, which means as you inhale, some of this trapped heat and moisture warms and humidifies the air you breathe in. Simple but effective, a cold weather mask can make all the difference when outdoors during the winter.

  • Remember Your Medication - Many people with asthma take a daily preventative, and during cold weather, it becomes even more paramount to maintain this regimen. Additionally, rescue inhalers should always be on hand, particularly if you are exercising. Being cooped up indoors is often not much better, but by maintaining your medication and cleaning the home regularly to remove allergens, you can reduce reactions.

  • Maintain Proper Indoor Humidity - If you've spent time outdoors in freezing temperatures, few things refresh you and help you clear out your airways better than a hot shower. Why? Returning Moisture To the Air You Breathe Is Critical in Preventing Asthma AttacksThe warmth and the humidity soothe dried airways and help loosen mucus that has cooled and settled in your airways. Beyond a warm shower, maintaining proper indoor humidity levels can keep your home comfortable and eliminate dry air that aggravates asthma, and the easiest way to accomplish this is with a room humidifier. They come in a variety of styles and sizes and offer warm or cool mist to restore moisture and soothe airways.

While none of these things can fully prevent an asthma attack. They all can greatly reduce the risk of triggering an attack during these cold months. For more information as to why your nose runs more in cold weather, check out our recent post.

Author: KevvyG

Posted by kevvyg on Monday, December 01, 2014
Being an Ohio native, though admittedly not a big Bengals fan, I found the recent Geico ad featuring Ickey Woods hilarious. I watched Woods run the ball for years with the Bengals, but seeing him do his "Ickey Shuffle" then spike a package of cold cuts at the deli counter cracked me up. Though humorous, the ad has given Woods a new avenue to promote a cause that effected him very personally - asthma.

The Jovante Woods FoundationIn 2010 his son, Jovante, died of a severe asthma attack. A student athlete who was just 16 years old at the time, Jovante had been diagnosed with asthma at the age of two. In honor of his son, Woods started the Jovante Wood Foundation based on three things that came to define his son. In addition to asthma awareness, the other two keys of the foundation are organ donation and education. Unaware at the time, Jovante had actually signed up to be an organ donor, which at the time of his passing helped to save the lives of others. And, while he played football like his father, Jovante was also an A student, maintaining a 3.8 GPA in high school.

Asthma affects roughly 25 million Americans and causes nearly two million visits to emergency rooms across the country each year. While mortality rates remain relatively low, about ten people per day die from asthma attacks. What is likely most troubling is that, according to the Center for Disease Control, asthma rates have been trending up, from affecting 1:14 in 2001 to 1:12 in 2009.

Though asthma can be managed, there are a variety of factors that can effect asthma outcomes, from environmental issues and exercise to proper prescriptions and avoidance of triggers. For many, WellaPets - Asthma Education App for Kidseducation remains a key factor, which is why things like the Woods Foundation and another initiatives (even apps/games like the WellaPets we mentioned a while ago) remain important. In an interview with a local ABC affiliate in Woods' hometown of Fresno, he mentions one thing that he "didn't know is that asthma could kill." He's not alone. When it comes to asthma so many of us have a similar mindset, in that asthma has become so common, we can sometimes lose sight of just how powerful it can be.

Ickey Woods' NFL career was cut short because of injury, but he continues to use that brief time in his life to promote a cause that effects millions across the country. Woods was ecstatic to have his number called (number 44) at the deli counter, but he was still wearing his old Bengals number on his t-shirt, #30.

For more information on the Jovante Wood Foundation. If you've got a Bengals or Ickey Woods fan in the family, you can pick up some autographed Bengals swag, and the money goes towards the scholarships that the foundation funds as well as asthma research and organ donation.

Watch Ickey Shuffle at the Deli Counter

Author: K. Gilmore

Tags: Asthma
Posted by kevvyg on Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Late last week many of you likely came across a story about Enterovirus D68 and how it is affecting school children in states across the middle of the U.S. I have to admit, I am a bit behind on this topic, but not having children is the likely reason for me to have missed it (well that and the fact that I average less than eight hours of television per week). Latest Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates confirm a total of just over 100 cases spread across ten states, with that estimate likely being a bit low due to confirmation process. What struck me about this virus were two things. First, I haven't heard of this before, and secondly, it seems to affecting children with asthma at a greater rate and more severely than other children. What is an enterovirus, and how is it spread? More importantly, what can children and adults do to help lessen the spread of this virus?

An enterovirus is a single-stranded RNA virus that is part of a genus containing twelve different species of viruses. Within each species, though, there can be a wide variety of serotypes (variations), but all have high mutation rates. In this case, the name "enterovirus D68" represents the variant of this particular genus of viruses, the 68th. Overall, this genus of virus actually contains some of the worst offenders when it comes to humans, both in severity (polio to hepatitis A) and in breadth of contagion (common cold - the Rhinovirus).

The CDC estimates that 10 to 15 million people each year are infected with the enterovirus, but with majority of these being the rhinovirus (common cold), this statistic is generally one that does not raise concern. What is raising concern is the spread of enterovirus D68, and this is for two reasons.

First, while we first discovered this particular serotype decades ago, it has not been commonly occurring. More importantly, it appears to disproportionately affect those with asthma. Those with asthma or other respiratory conditions are generally more prone to suffer more severe effects from external factors, not only viruses but also pollen and smoke. Smoke makes me cough, but if you have asthma, smoke can cause wheezing or an asthma attack.

A similar situation is what parents are seeing with this virus. While many likely shrug it off as the common cold or flu, CDC Chart of States Reporting Enterovirus D68 Caseswith the child exhibiting symptoms that are most akin to a cold or allergies, children with asthma may experience trouble breathing or wheezing. This is when parents are suggested to act. And recently, they have been.

Overall the scope of the virus is likely underestimated since many will see less severe symptoms, not enough to seek medical treatment. Hospitals and labs aren't likely reporting the full scope since the virus isn't one that is required to be tested for by the CDC. However, the image to the right shows the states reporting infections as of Monday with the lower image showing states reporting as of today. Yes, it is spreading, much like the common cold and flu does each year, and currently health officials are expecting this trend to increase before it finally tapers off with the onset of winter.

What do you do? The main concern right now seems to be with children with asthma. Touch base with your primary care provider and keep in mind what to do if your child is experiencing labored or troubled breathing or wheezing. Milder symptoms are going to be most common amongst children in general and like the cold, with plenty of fluids and rest, they will run their course with little worry. For more severe cases, supportive care is really the most that can be done. Medications to relax airways and supplemental oxygen are most common with the most critical needing ventilators.

In general, there are a couple things to keep in mind. First, enterovirus D68 is making a lot of headlines, but it is generally a mild virus that acts much like the common cold. While all parents will want to be watchful of their children and symptoms, asthmatics are most at risk. Lastly, like the common cold, there is no vaccine or treatment beyond supportive care, so prevention techniques, like frequent hand washing and sanitizing surfaces are important things to keep in mind.

Author: Kevin Gilmore

Tags: Asthma
Posted by kevvyg on Thursday, July 17, 2014
Back in 2012, I highlighted a study that was presented at the European Respiratory Society conference that focused on the link between the use of common asthma treatments and a child's height. In this study, researchers examined the use of budesonide, a corticosteroid that is the active ingredient in Pulmicort, a commonly prescribed asthma medication. This morning, two new studies were released that further the correlation between lower growth velocity and the use of corticosteroids.

Inhaled Corticosteroids - Dosage Effects Child GrowthCorticosteroids are commonly prescribed for persistent, moderate to severe asthma. Often inhaled, this type of drug is used to prevent asthma attacks. While the previous study focused on one particular corticosteroid, these latest studies expanded that to include six and five, respectively, different types of inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) drugs.

In the first study, six ICS and 25 trials involving nearly 8500 children were reviewed. Over the course of a year, there was about a .5 cm difference in growth between children who used ICS and those who used placebos or non-steroidal drugs. This review suggests much the same as the one mentioned in 2012, that though small, there is some reduction in growth velocity and overall height associated with the use of ICS. And again now, as then, the lead author of this most recent review suggests that the benefits of using ICS to control moderate to severe asthma outweighs this minimal, but significant, reduction in growth velocity.Inhaled Corticosteroids Effect Child's Height

In the second study, 22 trials were reviewed, with the main focus being the effect of low to medium doses on ICS on growth velocity. While the information collected was incomplete in the majority of the trails examined, a correlation between growth velocity and the amount of ICS administered was observed. Simply put, those with low dose ICS treatments experienced a smaller reduction in growth velocity than those who were treated with larger doses of ICS.

Overall, both studies highlight two points and further refine previous research. First, inhaled corticosteroids do have an impact on height/growth velocity. This is not limited to a particular type of corticosteroid and appears with many of the most common ones. Second, higher doses of ICS correlate with less growth. The smaller the dose, the less the effect on a child's height. Again though, it's worth repeating that they're not talking a major reduction in height, fractions of a centimeter annually. Most professionals who have either conducted these studies or have read them still agree that the benefits of ICS in controlling moderate to severe asthma outweigh this small reduction in height.

Studies like these are important for a few reasons. They highlight a potential side effect that has been previously not known or often discussed. It is also good to remember that these studies show results that effect more than just those who are coping with asthma. Some of the drugs used in the studies were beclomethasone dipropionate, budesonide, ciclesonide, flunisolide, fluticasone propionate and mometasone fumarate. These are the active ingredients used in common asthma AND allergy medications like
  • Symbicort
  • Pulmicort
  • Elocon
  • Flonase
  • Veramyst
  • Alvesco
  • Omnaris
  • Omnair
They also highlight the importance of what we do here at AchooAllergy. If blocking dust mites in your bedding or replacing carpet with hard flooring or using a high quality, HEPA air purifier reduces irritants in the home, the net benefit may likely be less reliance on medication and a lower risk of having to deal with the side effects. If your child has been diagnosed with moderate to severe asthma and inhaled corticosteroids are recommended, you should have a discussion with your doctor, and as is often the case with medication, the lowest dose that provides relief is the best dose.

To read more about the larger study of ICS on growth rates or the study of ICS doses and growth rates.

Author: Kevin Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Dr. Matthew Mardiney, MDWe are constantly trying to bring you the most up-to-date and relevant information available. To help in doing so, we've begunn partnering with board certified doctors to answer some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about allergies and asthma.

With our first set of questions, I'd like to introduce Dr. Matthew Mardiney, MD.

Travel Allergy Tips?

How can I keep my allergies in check when traveling to countries where I might be exposed to trees/plants that I've never encountered before?

- submitted by TravelBug

Traveling out of the country or even other parts of our country can be challenging for people who suffer from environmental allergies. There is no easy way to predict how a foreign allergen will impact the allergic individual. Factors that can impact include previous exposure, the amount, and duration of exposure. Often allergy sufferers who have not have had previous exposure will be less affected by a new environment.

The keys to travel success are to ensure that your baseline allergic condition is being maximally treated and controlled prior to your travels and to have a treatment plan going forward. Being prepared to travel means knowing the predominant allergen that you will be exposed to {endemic pollens, animal dander, mold, etc.} and having backup measures to initiate if symptoms escalate. This includes avoidance measures (as best as possible) and additional medications such as antihistamines and/or decongestants for symptomatic control if needed. In extreme cases traveling with a low dose oral steroid and/or a rescue inhaler may be warranted based on the person's allergic history.

Finally, Individualizing a treatment plan with your Allergist or PCP is always a good idea before traveling. Remember the phrase "Fail to prepare...prepare to fail"

Keeping Your Child Active with Asthma?

Any advice on how to keep my asthmatic son active but safe during the spring and summer?

- submitted by Marietta, OH Mom

Every asthmatic is different but typically the summer and particularly the spring can be challenging. Our goal is always shooting for maximum control where the asthmatic patient essentially normalizes and can do anything a non-asthmatic can do. Typically this Playing & Exercise with Asthmacan be obtained to some degree with preventative allergy and asthma treatment.

If your child does have pollen sensitivity in the spring and summer it's best to do most activity outside in the early morning or late afternoon when pollen counts are down and temperatures are cooler. Be aware of the air quality and limit outside activities during poor air quality days. If your child struggles with allergy and asthma despite these measures, a reassessment of their maintenance allergy and asthma treatment is indicated and consideration for allergen desensitization "shots" should be discussed with your local allergist.

Do you have questions you would like answered? Submit them to us via the FAQ form on every product page, email them using, send them to us via our live chat or send us something via snail mail. The most relevant and intriguing we'll select to be answered.

Author: Kevin Gilmore

Posted by Kevvyg on Friday, February 28, 2014
Challenges of Running with AsthmaI guess I would call myself a seasonal runner. During the winter, if I can’t get out to a trail or parkway, then I usually can find no reason for me to run on slick sidewalks surrounded by muddy snow. But now, in between the crazy snow/ice days we’ve been having here in Atlanta, I’ve been able to get out and enjoy a nice run in the sunshine.

On a more recent run, it occurred to me that there must be runners with asthma. But how do they manage it? What happens if they have an asthma attack? Could they run marathons and races or hit the trail for long distance runs?

Most of us are familiar with the common causes of asthma attacks, tobacco smoke, air pollution, dust mites, mold, cockroach allergens, or pets. However, exercise-induced asthma is triggered by physical exertion and is a common cause that might seem counterintuitive to some, particularly since severe asthma can often limit physical activity. The severity of exercise-induced asthma attacks can be affected by many factors including overall health, medication taken (or not taken), how long you are exercising, and the environment (temperature, pollution, etc.).

To better understand how asthma affects an active person’s lifestyle, I spoke to Ali McDonald, co-owner of, and Christina Kenney a current student at Kent State University and past cross country and track runner. Both are currently active runners with asthma.

Ali M.Ali McDonald - Asthma  & Running

How long have you been running?
I’ve been running since I was five. I’ve always loved running!

Do you run 5Ks, marathons, races?
No, I run for exercise- 3-5 miles, a few days a week.

What triggers your asthma attacks?
My asthma attacks are triggered by pollen, but mostly cold weather induced.

What happens when you start to have an asthma attack?
I can’t get a breath when it does happen. You can’t get a full breath in, it’s shortened… like when you exercise really hard, and you try to slow your heart beat down to catch your breath, but you can’t. That’s how I would explain it to people who don’t have asthma.

So do you just slow down, or try to relax yourself? How do you take care of it?
I use my inhaler. It’s the only way, basically.

What about when you’re not running? What do you do if, let’s say, you have an attack while walking around in the park?
Since I have exercise-induced asthma, I don’t generally have asthma attacks when I’m not running. But if I do feel a shortness of breath, or anything like that, I take my time, slow down and focus on slowing down my heart rate.

What’s the perfect run for you?-Perfect weather, inclines?
When the temperature gets below 32° C it becomes difficult to run, so between 50° and 60° is great, and without seasonal allergens. Inclines don’t affect me so much as temperature.

What sports did you do when you were younger?
I was a gymnast and I did cheerleading. I never had asthma attacks in gymnastics, and in cheerleading there were enough breaks in between that it really didn’t affect my asthma.

Do you have any advice for those with asthma who may want to start running?
Carry your inhaler. It can be scary to have it in your car a few miles away, while you’re having an attack. And avoid exercising in situations where you’ll be affected by triggers like ragweed and pollen.

Christina K.Christina K. - Asthma & Running

How long have you been running?
I’ve been running since freshman year of high school, so about 6 years ago.

Did you start running for sports?
I started with track then cross country.

Have you always had asthma?
Yeah, it was much more severe when I was little. I had to take treatments three times a day, breathing treatments with a nebulizer from the time I was a baby until I was old enough and switched over to a once-a-day preventative pill.

When did you decide to start running?
As I got older it wasn’t as severe, then one day in gym we had to run a mile. Everyone hated it, but I wanted to push myself so I ran as hard as I could and beat everyone. The gym coach said I should try out for track after that. She said that there were plenty of runners with asthma that could run.

What happens when you start to an asthma attack while running? How do you feel, what are the symptoms and how do you take care of it?
I slow down a lot, sometimes walk, with my hands on my head. It was really hard at first when I started running- I started as the slowest one. When the weather is cold, it stings a lot and burns. It’s a harsh feeling. In warmer weather, I can’t breathe and I have a heavy weight on my chest. When it is cold out, I take my inhaler before my run to try to prevent it, but if I don’t take it before I have to use it during and after my run.

Describe the perfect run for you- the weather, incline, no incline, etc.
I’d say like… 60°, 70° degree weather.

What advice do you have for running with asthma?
Definitely don’t get discouraged just because of asthma. I went from the slowest distance runner in freshman year to one of the fastest on varsity. Get used to it, and carry an inhaler. It’ll be hard at first, but as you go running gets easier. It’ll even improve your asthma.

Why do you think that?
Because it helps you out, makes your lungs get stronger. Running gets easier, you just have to get used to it.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’d also tell people wanting to distance run, with asthma, to be diligent. Try not to take a really long hiatus from running if they enjoy what they get out of it. It takes a good amount of time and perseverance to get back in shape as an asthmatic. Not only are you getting your muscles back in shape but you're also building your lung capacity.

Before interviewing Ali and Christina, I thought asthma was just a general respiratory ailment. But it was a nice surprise to see a contrast in exercise induced asthma and regular asthma. I learned that cold weather is not a good running partner while inhalers are, and as Theodore Roosevelt promoted, running could actually be beneficial for asthma. Thank you ladies!

Author: R. Power

Tags: Asthma
Posted by kevvyg on Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Yesterday, a US Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted not to recommend Primatene HFA for over-the-counter sale. This is the latest in the attempt to bring a bronchodilator back to the over-the-counter market. There were two additional votes on the drug, and the mixed results could be reason for hope in seeing a new bronchodilator on the market in the future.

Primatene Mist - OTC BronchodilatorMany of you may recall seeing Primatene Mist on drugstore and market shelves when you were younger. For me, it was a common occurrence as my cousin, who suffers from severe asthma, would often have this inhaler with him. After spending time in the backyard with my cousins and brothers playing football, he would pull out his inhaler, flip the top and use it if his asthma flared up.

In 2011 Primatene Mist was phased out and removed from store shelves. These pocket-sized inhalers used chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) to propel the epinephrine out and into the lungs of the asthma sufferer. As part of an overall move away from CFC-based propellants, the axe finally fell on Primatene Mist in December of that year. Since then, the manufacturer, Armstrong Pharmaceuticals, has been attempting to gain OTC status for a replacement inhaler, the short-acting beta2-agonist (SABA) bronchodilator, Primatene HFA. Currently, the only forms of this type of drug available are prescribed. If you have asthma, you might be familiar with their names, albuterol and levalbuterol. However, there is some need for an OTC alternative, particularly in case of emergencies or when people run out of their prescription at inopportune times.

In addition to ultimately voting no to OTC use, the 25 member advisory panel also voted on the efficacy and safety of the new inhaler. While there is still another ongoing clinical trial, the panel discussed the results of two other clinical trials that showed significant results. On a vote over the efficacy, 14 yes votes won out.

Lastly, the panel discussed and voted on the safety of the proposed drug. Like most drugs, Primatene HFA did show some side effects, though even with the most severe side effect being tremors, all cases were mild. Other side effects were infrequent. A larger safety issue was likely found in the correct use of the inhaler. While the new inhaler uses an ozone-friendly propellant, the new formula is a suspension that can settle. Consequently, the inhaler must be primed four times before the first use and twice after two weeks of nonuse. It must also be washed and dried each day, and both of these present significant hurdles when it comes to ease-of-use and proper use. With regard to labeling, some members felt that patients may be led to believe that it is for daily use when only actually intended for intermittent use. All of these things resulted in 17 panel members voting no, in terms of safety.

The end result, for now, is that the new Primatene HFA will not be in pharmacy and store shelves any time soon, but the drug does show promise. It does work, and there is a need for it. Undoubtedly, Armstrong will revisit the inhaler and attempt to address issues of misuse or mishandling.

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Thursday, January 23, 2014
Tax Deductible Home Renovations Are Nothing to Sneeze At!As if we all needed a reminder, tax time is just around the corner! Time to dig up all those receipts and schedule an appointment with your local CPA or tax preparer. Even through the interwebs, I can tell you're just as excited about this as I am!

On a serious note, this time of year is perfect for looking at how making a change around your house just might something that can help you with your taxes. If you have allergies, asthma or more severe respiratory disease, a doctor's prescription might be just what you needed to lower your bill with Uncle Sam. How you ask? Check out this article that I put together after speaking with a CPA in the local Atlanta area and see how your home renovation for allergies or asthma might be tax deductible.

Author: K. Gilmore

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