Sustainable Inhalers-future challenges, threats and opportunities

Gregor Anderson


There is a growing threat to society driven from the impact that the world’s population is having on the planet. Climate change is something that we all play a part in and we are all accountable in everything we do, and that includes and extends to the companies we work for and the medicines and devices & packaging we manufacture and distribute.

External factors are becoming more demanding and these include healthcare organisations/governments/retailers and end users. Global industries are having to set environmental strategies in their annual Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) reporting, and this extends to the Life Sciences. Inhalation platforms are under the spotlight due to fact that the most commonly used respiratory device; the MDI (metered dose inhaler) uses hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) propellants which are potent greenhouse gases. The MDI however is a valuable device that ensures a wide affordable access to certain molecules and is especially useful when medicating paediatrics (using a spacer).

Other device platforms offer reduced global warming potential (GWP) as they don’t contain propellants, but they are disposable (typically through established waste collection that ultimately ends in landfill). There is no single solution that mitigates the impact that inhalers have on the environment but there are some major initiatives that the industry must undertake to ensure credibility with our healthcare providers, stakeholders and patients. This has to be done as a wider industry drive, it will take time and it will take a concentrated and aligned effort.

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