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Asthma inhaler a foil for drunk drivers

Asthma inhaler a foil for drunk drivers

The observation by Dr Shane Reti that Pharmac’s proposed sole supply asthma inhaler, Salamol, will cause a positive breath test for alcohol is an unexpected and possibly ominous finding, says National’s Health spokesman, Paul Hutchison.

“Though the observation has been dismissed by Pharmac, the worst case scenario is that drivers who drink could take a puff from the Salamol inhaler as a defence, in order to foil police,” says Dr Hutchison.

“The finding indicates that once again Pharmac has not done its work properly in assessing an important therapy for a sole supply agency.

“When Pharmac chose to replace the trusted and reliable Ventolin inhaler, the least they could have done was a robust and extensive search of the literature to check all possible side effects.”

Dr Hutchison says there appear to be multiple problems with Salamol inhalers, including blockages if they are not washed regularly. Religious groups such as Muslims, and Alcoholics Anonymous also object to the alcohol base in Salamol.

“Asthma specialist Dr Alan Liang has reported that two of his child patients have been admitted to Starship Hospital after refusing Salamol because of its taste.

“Given that 600,000 asthmatics in New Zealand use inhalers, a significant number will undoubtedly find the new product unsuitable.

“Twice this year Pharmac has awarded a sole supply contract without properly taking into account the consequences. Firstly the disastrous decision, against industry advice, to have a sole supply agency for the flu vaccine, and now Salamol.

“With such widely used medications as Ventolin and Salamol, Pharmac must look seriously to offering a choice to consumers,” says Dr Hutchison.


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