Environmental Impacts of Inhalers- a Cradle to Grave Review


Pressurised metered dose inhalers (pMDIs) have played a vital role in the delivery of a number of medications through the inhalation route and continue to be the major method of choice for the delivery of drugs for treatment of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) across the globe. Originally formulated using chlorofluorocarbon propellants, particularly CFC-12 and CFC-11, the adoption of the Montreal Protocol initiated an industry-wide transition to hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) to reduce the impact on the ozone layer. However, HFC-134a and HFC-227ea propellants, which are currently used in these inhalers, have significantly high global warming potentials. To reduce the climate change impact of inhalers, several options are available to the industry, including alternative devices, such as dry powder inhalers and nebulisers and modification of pMDI devices to reduce the propellant quantity per dose. In addition, the manufacturers can use a different propellant with a lower global warming potential, such as HFC-152a. This talk will focus on the cradle-to-grave life cycle environmental impacts of different types of inhaler and discuss various options to reduce their impacts.