Primatene Mist: safety and side effects
Primatene Mist, as well as other generic, chlorofluorocarbon (CFC)-powered epinephrine inhalers, are currently no longer available for the treatment of asthma in the United States. Primatene Mist has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the temporary relief of occasional mild asthma symptoms.
Many companies have replaced CFC propellants with hydrofluoroalkane (HFA). HFA inhalers can be used in the same way as CFC inhalers.
In 2014, an FDA advisory committee voted against recommending the over-the-counter marketing of a Primatene Mist HFA inhaler. But after reformulation with HFA propellant and change of inhaler device, Primatene Mist is again available over the counter in 2019.
In 2009, federal laws required inhaler propellants (the substance that pushes medicine from your inhaler into your lungs when pressed) to switch from chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) to hydrofluoroalkane (HFAs) to reduce ozone levels and protect the environment. This allowed pharmaceutical companies to start driving up costs, as the new propellants were considered a “new drug”.
Primatene Mist and other generic epinephrine CFC inhalers were withdrawn from the United States market on December 31, 2011.
Other over-the-counter drugs have entered the market
Asthmanefrin is not a CFC or HFA inhaler, but a device that creates a fine mist that can be inhaled into the lungs from liquid. Single unit doses are placed in the well of the device and the mist is then created and inhaled. You inhale continuously until the mist is gone.
Like Primatene Mist, Asthmanefrin is indicated for the “temporary relief of bronchial asthma, including shortness of breath, chest tightness, and wheezing.”
Is Primatene Mist Safe?
Many health care providers wonder if it is safe to sell asthma medications over the counter. Over-the-counter medications aren’t sold for high blood pressure, heart disease or cholesterol issues – so many people ask why for asthma? As a result, a number of researchers have studied whether this practice is safe or not.
In general, Primatene Mist seems safe if used correctly. An article in Chest, the journal of the American College of Chest Physicians, concluded that “Occasional use of over-the-counter epinephrine inhalers appears to be safe and effective when used according to labeled directions by people with only mild intermittent disease”. However, the authors went on to point out that 20% of people using over-the-counter epinephrine inhalers like Primatene Mist should not be using them and should actually be taking other asthma medications and be under the care of doctor.
Additionally, the use of medications like Primatene Mist has been associated with decreased use of inhaled steroids and underutilization of medical services.
What is Primatene Mist used for?
If you are considering using Primatene Mist, consult a healthcare provider first. Asthma is a serious illness that can get worse quickly. You shouldn’t use an over-the-counter medication to avoid seeing a doctor for asthma.
According to the information on its packaging, Primatene Mist can be used “for the temporary relief of occasional mild asthma symptoms”, such as:
The packaging says to ask a doctor before use if you have:
- ever been hospitalized for asthma
- heart disease
- high blood pressure
- difficulty urinating due to an enlarged prostate
- thyroid disease
- angle-closure glaucoma
Primatene Mist Side Effects
Common Primatene Mist side effects include:
- Appetite changes
- sinus pain
- Sore throat
- Sleeping troubles
More Serious Side Effects of Primatene Mist
Some Primatene Mist side effects require you to seek immediate medical attention. These would include:
- Allergic reactions, such as skin rashes, hives, difficulty breathing, and swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue
- Chest pain
- ear pain
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Kick in the chest
- Red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin
- Severe headache or dizziness
- Difficulty breathing
Buy Primatene Mist and other asthma medications on the Internet
If you plan to buy Primatene Mist on the Internet, be sure to use a company you can trust. Reputable companies:
- Are located in the United States and licensed by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP)
- Have a licensed pharmacist on hand to address any concerns you may have about your asthma medications, just like the pharmacy down the street would.
- Filling prescriptions only for duly licensed healthcare providers
- Do not sell non-FDA approved products
- Participate in the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS) Certification Program
- Protect your privacy and protect your personal information
Financial assistance for asthma medications
There are a number of patient assistance programs that can help you get free or low-cost asthma medication. The programs are all very different and will have different rules and qualification standards.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the cost of Primatene Mist?
Primatene Mist costs an average of $35 for 11.7 grams.
Is Primatene Mist the same as albuterol?
No. The active ingredient in Primatene Mist is epinephrine. Albuterol (also known as salbutamol) is only available by prescription.
Does Primatene Mist work for shortness of breath?
Primatene Mist should only be used for mild, intermittent asthma, including shortness of breath. In case of severe shortness of breath, call 911.
How many times a day can you use Primatene Mist?
According to the Primatene Mist instructions, each dose is one to two inhalations and the maximum daily dose is eight inhalations in 24 hours.