What Happened To ProAir HFA And What Alternatives Are There?

In our latest question and answer, our pharmacist discusses why ProAir HFA was discontinued and what the alternative inhaler options are.

Question

I have been taking Proair HFA for about 3 years now. I just went to get a refill last week and was told it was no longer being made. What happened? What can I use now?

Asked by Russell On Oct 28, 2022

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By HelloPharmacist Staff

Published Oct 28, 2022
Last updated Feb 23, 2024

Key points

  • ProAir HFA was discontinued by Teva, the manufacturer, in October 2022.
  • Several other alternative albuterol inhalers are available, including Ventolin HFA, Proventil HFA, and generic albuterol HFA inhalers.
  • Be sure to look at your pharmacy insurance formulary to see what albuterol inhaler is 'preferred'. If previously, only ProAir HFA was preferred, your insurance will likely move a different albuterol HFA inhaler to preferred status so you will have the same copay.
  • Teva currently manufactures a generic albuterol HFA inhaler that utilizes the same canister and holding device as ProAir HFA did.

Answer

Thanks for reaching out! ProAir HFA was discontinued by the manufacturer (Teva) in October 2022. Fortunately, there are several other inhalers available that contain the same drug (albuterol sulfate) and include Ventolin HFA, Proventil HFA, and generic albuterol HFA inhalers.

The following statement was released by Teva, the manufacturer of ProAir HFA:

Teva Albuterol Discontinued Statement


Why Was ProAir HFA Discontinued?

While Teva hasn't given a specific reason why ProAir HFA was discontinued, it's likely due to several reasons:

  • There are a number of other albuterol HFA brands currently available on the market
  • Insurance companies often prefer one inhaler brand over another
  • A generic albuterol HFA inhaler already exists and is made by Teva (the same manufacturer of ProAir HFA)

In regard to the last point, the generic albuterol HFA made by Teva is essentially the same product as the brand name ProAir HFA, just with a different label.

You can see in the image below that these two inhalers even use the same canister-holding device:

ProAir HFA and Teva Albuterol HFA side by side

Teva likely only wants to focus on the generic albuterol inhaler in regard to manufacturing, advertising, and becoming a preferred inhaler on insurance formularies.

Alternatives To ProAir HFA

As mentioned, there are several alternative inhaler options to ProAir HFA. They are:

  • Ventolin HFA
  • Proventil HFA
  • Albuterol Sulfate HFA (generic version)
  • ProAir Digihaler
  • ProAir Respiclick

It is important to note that all of these inhalers contain albuterol sulfate. The three inhalers that are most similar to ProAir HFA are Ventolin HFA, Proventil HFA, and Albuterol Sulfate HFA as they all use the HFA propellant. You shouldn't notice any difference in how these inhalers are used, or how well they work, to treat your asthma.

ProAir Digihaler and ProAir Respiclick are a little different than the HFA inhalers. They do contain albuterol sulfate, but in a dry powder form that is inhaled, as opposed to an aerosol that you have with the HFA inhalers.

What About Insurance Coverage?

It's not uncommon that insurance carriers prefer one brand of albuterol inhaler over another, so it is important to refer to your pharmacy formulary to see which inhaler is covered.

Since the announcement that ProAir HFA was going to be discontinued, several health plans have announced that alternative inhalers will be moved to preferred status after ProAir HFA stocks are depleted.

For example, North Carolina Medicaid released the following statement regarding Ventolin HFA being moved to 'preferred' status:

On Oct. 1, 2022, ProAir® HFA inhalation aerosol will be discontinued by the manufacturer. Ventolin® HFA will shift from Non-Preferred to Preferred on the Preferred Drug List (PDL), effective Sept. 23, 2022. Claims for ProAir® HFA will continue to pay as a Preferred drug to allow pharmacies to dispense existing stock. An approximate 90-day supply of ProAir® HFA is expected to remain after the discontinuation date, per the manufacturer. The generic albuterol inhalers on the PDL will remain Non-Preferred.

Health plans in Texas and Vermont have released similar statements.

If you were getting ProAir HFA through your insurance, it likely will continue to be covered as long as the supply lasts. After stock no longer remains, your insurance plan will likely move one of the alternative albuterol HFA inhalers to a 'preferred' status so you'll have the same copay as before.

As every health plan is different, be sure to refer to your formulary, or contact them directly, to find out which albuterol HFA inhaler is preferred.

Final Words

Thanks so much for your question and I hope you found this helpful! If anything else comes up, please reach out!

References

About the Pharmacist

Dr. Brian Staiger, PharmD

Dr. Brian has been practicing pharmacy for over 13 years and has wide-ranging experiences in many different areas of the profession. From retail, clinical, program development, and administrative responsibilities, he's your knowledgeable and go-to source for all your pharmacy and medication-related questions! Dr. Brian Staiger also has herbalist training and educational certificates in the field of medical ethnobotany. Feel free to send him an email at [email protected]! You can also connect with Dr. Brian Staiger on LinkedIn.

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