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24 June 2024
Asthma , COPD

If you have asthma or COPD, you might be using an inhaler to help you manage your disease. Some inhalers use a gas, known as propellants, which delivers the medicine directly into the lungs of the patient. These inhalers are called metered dose inhalers (MDIs) and some contain fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-Gases), which can have an impact on the environment.

As part of the green and sustainability agenda, the European Commission is proposing new rules on the labelling of products containing fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-Gases), that will apply from 1 January 2025.

In June, EFA replied to the stakeholder consultation from the European Commission on the labelling of F-Gases, an important piece of legislation for the EFA community, as it will affect the labelling of asthma and COPD treatment. 

In our response, EFA highlighted patients’ concerns and needs when adopting new labelling of medicinal products, ensuring that the resulting labelling of F-gases is balanced and addresses both environmental and health concerns, and does not harm or compromise patients’ health.

F-gases label to inform about the impact on health, not just on the environment 

For climate change action, it is important for citizens, including patients, to have access to the environmental footprint of products to understand their own contribution to meeting the climate targets. However, while there are a wide variety of products containing F-gases (such as ventilation and cooling systems), MDIs are not an ordinary commodity, but rather life-saving treatment prescribed by healthcare professionals for patients with chronic airways diseases. As such, it is of utmost importance that patients are accurately informed of the effects and impact of the use of products containing F-gases in their healthcare.

EFA provided recommendations on the importance of accurate labelling of F-gases products is essential for respiratory patients' health: 

  • Further clarification of the implications of using medicinal products containing F-Gases, without consequences on the lung health of patients. 
  • Indication of the name of the specific fluorinated greenhouse gas that is used as a propellent.
  • All relevant information about the F-gases must be indicated in the outer packaging, sale packaging or package leaflet.
  • Clear explanation on the ‘reduced impact on the climate’ of products containing F-gases. 

EFA community of patients concerns regarding the implementation timeline 

EFA also raised concerns regarding the proposed implementation deadline of the draft proposed act on the 1 January 2025. Such a rushed implementation deadline, with less than half a year to enact all requirements of labelling may lead to poorly explained and/or misleading information on labels, non-compliance, and, in the case of MDIs could potentially cause supply disruption and shortage of essential medicines.

EFA will continue following this labelling implementation and collaborate with the European Medicines Agency, who will issue labelling guidelines for companies.

You may read EFA’s reply in full here.