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262 million people around the world suffer from asthma, and inhalers can contribute to global warming | Photo source Canva

Carbon minimal asthma inhalers

Health & Wellbeing

The new inhaler causes far fewer carbon emissions than traditional designs

Spotted: Globally, asthma is a major disease – and as pollution and other environmental factors worsen, asthma is becoming even more prevalent. In the UK, up to 8 million people, around 12 percent of the population may have asthma. And the World Health Organisation estimates that more than 262 million people around the world are affected by asthma. Luckily, there is help in the form of drugs dispensed via pressurised metered dose inhalers (pMDI).  However, many of these inhalers also use hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) propellants that are powerful greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.  

A number of pharmaceutical companies are working on alternatives to HFC-containing pMDIs and one of these, Chiesi Group, has recently announced positive results from studies on an inhaler formulated with a new low global warming potential propellant. The studies concluded that the new formulation, dubbed HFA-152a, was just as effective in the treatment of asthma as the current hydrofluorocarbon propellant (HFA 134a), but would reduce Chiesi’s indirect greenhouse gas emissions by 90 per cent by 2035.

While the new inhalers are not yet approved for general use, phase 1 trials have been completed and the company is moving on to the next phase of clinical trials, along with partners Koura Global, the leading medical propellant manufacturer. The timing is particularly important as the European Union is planning a gradual phase down of climate-damaging F-gases. Chiesi hopes its new inhalers will enable a seamless transition for patients which will also benefit the planet.

Alessandro Chiesi, Chief Commercial Officer at Chiesi Group, reported in a press release that the results indicate an important milestone in the company’s goal to significantly reduce emissions by 2035. “This is a key step forward in our plan, we are fully on track and really reassured that our work to date has been successful. We will continue prioritising action over words in the fight against climate change and in ensuring that this never compromises the quality of care we provide our patients.”

Chiesi is not alone in working to develop a more environmentally friendly asthma inhaler. Boehringer Ingelheim manufactures the Respimat inhaler, a soft mist inhaler that does not contain propellants, and so has a lower carbon footprint than pMDIs. Other innovations in tracking and treating asthma include an AI-enabled wearable that monitors asthma and a stylish inhaler design that makes it easier for people to ensure they always have an inhaler with them. 

Written By: Lisa Magloff



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