Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer will achieve the final phase-out of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) this year with the phase-out of CFCs used in metered-dose inhalers (MDIs).
More than 98% of the CFCs used in MDIs have already been phased out, and will disappear completely in 2016, a significant milestone following 30 years of concerted global action to protect the ozone layer.
Affordable CFC-free alternatives for all inhaled treatments have been developed over the last 20 years, and are now available worldwide.
In 1996, when CFC-based aerosols were phased out in developed countries, CFC-free replacement inhalers were not available for the hundreds of millions of patients with asthma/chronic obstructive pulmonary disease worldwide who relied on them, and so a temporary exemption was allowed.
The safe phase-out of CFC MDIs is an impressive achievement that has required two decades of coordinated activity involving the pharmaceutical industry, healthcare regulators and providers, and patients.
The introduction of CFC-free alternatives has had benefits for patient health, thus generating a double-dividend gain. The extensive educational campaign associated with this transition has had a positive impact on the health of patients by increasing the awareness of the benefits of CFC-free alternative therapy.
While inhaled therapy doubled in the last 20 years to meet the health needs of patients, CFC MDIs were safely phased out to help meet the needs of the global environment.