In a new patient decision aid on inhalers for asthma, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is encouraging the use of 'greener' inhalers. The aid is expected to assist patients alongside health professionals to identify appropriate inhalers that fulfil the patients' needs and control their symptoms.
Certain inhalers have a considerably higher carbon footprint than others. The aid recommends that when several inhalers are viable for a patient, it is best to opt for the more environmentally friendly ones. The aid also advises returning all used inhalers to local pharmacies for safe disposal or recycling.
Metered dose inhalers (MDIs) use propellants called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) to propel the medication into the patient’s respiratory system. These HFCs are greenhouse gases, which are notorious for environmental damage. Dry powder inhalers (DPIs) are a much more environmentally friendly option and are able to deliver the same benefit as MDIs to many patients. The estimated carbon footprints for MDIs are 500 g CO2 eq per dose compared with 20 g for DPIs.
Emphasising the importance of environmentally friendly inhalers, Professor Gillian Leng, Deputy Chief Executive of NICE, said: "Cutting carbon emissions is good news for everyone, especially those with respiratory conditions."