The UK’s National Institute for Health Care and Excellence (NICE) has issued a new “patient decision aid” that emphasizes that a metered dose inhaler “contains propellant, so it has a higher carbon footprint than a DPI.” In a statement, NICE explains, “Where several inhalers could be viable options, patients can opt for the more environmentally friendly option, which may help to cut the health service’s carbon footprint.”
In addition to emphasizing the environmental impact of the propellants, the guide also notes that MDI spacers cannot currently be recycled and instructs patients to “Return old inhalers to a pharmacy for disposal or recycling.” The document includes tables and a flowchart for inhaler selection that includes other issues such as inhalation technique, cleaning requirements, and inhaler size.
According to NICE, UK patients use MDIs at a much higher rate than other Europeans, with 2011 inhaler sale data showing that about 70% of inhalers sold in the UK were MDIs compared to less than 50% elsewhere in Europe.
NICE Deputy Chief Executive Gillian Leng commented, “People who need to use metered dose inhalers should absolutely continue to do so – but if you have the choice of a green option, do think about the environment. Cutting carbon emissions is good news for everyone, especially those with respiratory conditions.”