Dr. Badrul Chowdhury of the Food and Drug Administration Center for Drug Evaluation and Research said most inhalers that used CFCs have already been phased out. The inhaler that had been most widely used -- the albuterol CFC inhaler -- was replaced with inhalers that use propellants called hydrofluoroalkanes, or HFAs when it was discontinued in 2008.
Combivent Inhalation Aerosol and Maxair Autohaler. which still contain CFCs, will no longer be available after Dec. 31.
People with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who use these inhalers should talk to their healthcare professional about a prescription for an alternative treatment, Chowdhury said.
"The EPA and FDA's partnership has facilitated a safe, gradual transition to CFC-free inhalers in the United States," Drusilla Hufford, director of the Environmental Protection Agency Stratospheric Protection Division of the Office of Air and Radiation, said in a statement. "This action is an important contribution to the global effort to repair the Earth's protective ozone layer and save millions of lives through the prevention of skin cancer."
CFCs damage the ozone layer, a thin, outer layer in the stratosphere that shields Earth against solar radiation.
The United States and most other countries signed the Montreal Protocol on Substances in 1987, agreeing to phase out worldwide production and use of CFCs. In the United States, CFCs have been removed from such products as hairsprays, deodorants and air conditioning, Chowdhury said.