FLATBUSH - An FDA-madated change has left some Brooklyn asthma sufferers gasping for breath from sticker shock.

The FDA has ordered manufacturers to phase out chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) inhalers by December 31, 2008. CFC inhalers contain a propellant that allows the medication to quickly reach the lungs, but it also depletes the ozone. Drug companies are switching to environmentally friendly hydrofluoroalkane (HFA) inhalers ahead of time.

Although just as effective, the new inhalers cost more. "The generic albuterol would have cost them $13 to $17 and the new ones ... $30 to $45," says pharmacist Shanel Sattar.

Agnes Greene, who relies on her CFC inhaler daily, was stunned by the change. "I came to get my prescription filled and I found out it's no longer accepted," said Greene.

Health professionals fear patients will try to make their inhalers last to save money instead of using them, putting lives at risk.

Related information:American Lung Association