Ensuring patients can tell when their inhaler is empty is essential for both clinical and environmental reasons. Many pMDIs do not have dose counters and therefore it is difficult for patients to know when the device is empty. This risks both waste of inhalers (throwing them away while they still contain usable medication doses) and undertreatment (continuing to use an inhaler which is not delivering any active medication).
Correct disposal of inhalers also has a significant environmental impact. They should not be placed in household waste, as they cannot be recycled by household waste systems and in landfill the propellant gases will leach into the atmosphere where they act as greenhouse gases. Used or unwanted inhalers should be recycled or incinerated via pharmacy services.
These projects give ideas for how to inform patients of these issues.
Patients of all ages using inhalers are suitable to be included these projects
IIF targets and monitoring
To monitor response to these projects, you could ask local pharmacies to update you about how many inhalers are being returned to them or keep track of how often the inhaler collection point at your practice needs emptying. These projects are not reflected in any IIF targets.