Submit Content
Get the latest delivered to your inbox
Privacy Policy

Now Reading

500,000 Inhalers to Be Distributed To Uninsured Asthma Patients Across the Country

500,000 Inhalers to Be Distributed To Uninsured Asthma Patients Across the Country

Published 05-02-07

Submitted by Schering-Plough

WASHINGTON, D.C. - May 2, 2007 - Community health centers and clinics across the country will be distributing asthma inhalers free of charge to their uninsured and underserved asthma patients beginning this week.

Direct Relief International has partnered with The Children’s Health Fund, National Association of Community Health Centers and National Association of Free Clinics to distribute 500,000 environmentally-friendly inhalers to more than 850 community health centers and free clinics in all 50 states and Puerto Rico during the month of April.

"This is a great opportunity for us to help those who need help the most. We're proud to be part of a ground-breaking initiative that provides additional resources for a network of providers that serves as one of the nation’s last safety nets for low-income families," said Malvise Scott, Vice President, Programs and Planning, National Association of Community Health Centers.

The new partnership, called the "2007 ASPIRE Campaign," is the result of a generous donation of 500,000 units of PROVENTIL® HFA, an environmentally-friendly albuterol inhaler, by Schering-Plough.

Due to a federally-mandated ban on chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), asthma patients who use albuterol CFC inhalers must switch to an environmentally-friendly albuterol inhaler by December 31, 2008. The ASPIRE Campaign will make it easier for low-income patients enrolled in participating clinics to make the transition to the HFA inhalers sooner.

"With this government mandate, asthma patients will find themselves having to get a new prescription for an albuterol inhaler that may look, feel, and taste different and for some patients may cost more," said Arturo Brito, Chief Medical Officer of The Children's Health Fund. "We're grateful to Schering-Plough for helping us prepare children and families in need by providing a free Proventil HFA inhaler as well as critical information about their patient assistance program to ease the transition."

Patients will receive educational materials on the change in albuterol inhalers and information on the patient assistance program offered by the donating pharmaceutical company, Schering-Plough.

"Access to medicines is always a challenge for uninsured and underserved patients," said Thomas Tighe, President and CEO of Direct Relief International, a medical relief organization. "That's why we are so pleased to join with our nonprofit organization colleagues who run safety-net clinics and with Schering-Plough, which has demonstrated true corporate leadership by recognizing and addressing a tough situation for low-income asthma patients."

A total of 858 health clinics, representing all 50 states and Puerto Rico, requested a donation of 471,873 units of the environmentally-friendly inhaler based on the needs of their underserved patient population. Schering-Plough's donation of 500,000 of their environmentally-friendly inhalers makes it possible to grant all of these requests.

Patients currently using an albuterol inhaler containing a CFC propellant should talk to their healthcare provider about environmentally-friendly alternatives. By the end of 2008, all albuterol inhalers with CFCs will be phased out. Asthma patients will need a prescription from their doctor to get an HFA-containing albuterol inhaler.

"This represents industry thinking differently to solve a public health issue by establishing a different distribution model, a new way to make sure donations from industry reach the populations with the biggest need," said Nicole Lamoureux, Executive Director, National Association of Free Clinics.

About the Process:

ASPIRE's allocation and distribution program was developed in consultation with representatives from health centers and clinics. To allocate the donation according to need, Direct Relief International developed an on-line survey for data collection. Letters with surveys were sent to the partner clinic associations, their members and non-member clinics. The information collected from the surveys was used to determine how many inhalers each clinic would receive, including: total number of uninsured asthma patients seen annually by the clinic; if the clinic is in an area of high incidence of asthma; and the total percentage of uninsured and underserved served by the clinic.

The responding clinics reported treating 399,519 uninsured asthma patients. All requests for the donated inhalers were granted and will be shipped to individual clinics no later than April 2007.

Survey Findings:

  • In total, 858 health centers and clinics responded to the survey, responding clinics included all 50 states and Puerto Rico
  • Responding clinics reported
  • 9,980,226 patients
  • 4,453,003 (45% of all patients) uninsured patients (9.6% of estimated 46.1 million uninsured U.S. residents)
  • 741,889 asthma patients (7% of all patients treated)
  • 399,519 uninsured asthma patients (4% of all patients treated, 9% of all uninsured patients)
  • 341,541 uninsured asthma patients using albuterol inhalers

NOTE: These numbers are based upon estimates from the health centers and clinics that participated in the survey. For more information about the donation or allocation process, contact Direct Relief International at (805) 964-4767.

Funding for the development and distribution of the press materials was provided by Schering-Plough Corporation.

PROVENTIL® HFA Inhalation Aerosol is indicated in adults and children 4 years of age and older for the treatment or prevention of bronchospasm with reversible obstructive airway disease and for the prevention of exercise-induced bronchospasm.

Important Safety Information
If patients symptoms become significantly worse when they use PROVENTIL® HFA, they should contact thier doctor immediately because this reaction can be life threatening. Worsening symptoms often occur with the first use of a new canister.
Patients should tell their doctor if they have a heart, blood, or seizure disorder, high blood pressure, diabetes, or an overactive thyroid, before they begin using PROVENTIL® HFA. Also doctors shuold know all medications a patient is taking - especially heart medications and drugs that treat depression - because some medications may interfere with how well asthma medications work. Side effects with PROVENTIL® HFA and Albuterol (CFC) Inhalation Aerosols are similar: In a clinical study, side effects associated with PROVENTIL® HFA and Albuterol (CFC) Inhalation Aerosols were similar and included infection of the ears, nose, and throat, runny nose, nausea, tremor, and nervousness. Rapid heart beat, vomiting, chest pain, and alpitation occurred more frequently with PROVENTIL® HFA.
For additional important product information, please visit

Direct Relief International
National Association of Community Health Centers
National Association of Free Clinics
The Children's Health Fund

To download the free Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America patient educational brochure about the December 2008 transition:

Under Video News Feeds at Medialink
Story Number: 04DC07-0182
Story Slug: "Free Asthma Inhalers for Uninsured Patients."

  • Sound bites from Thomas Tighe (President & CEO, Direct Relief International) and Malvise A. Scott (Vice President of Programs & Planning, National Association of Community Health Centers)
  • Shots of PROVENTIL® HFA inhaler & packaging
  • Footage of Direct Relief International distribution facility, including: staff assembling/shipping boxes of inhalers, exterior and interior shots of warehouse, trucks and equipment
  • Schering-Plough logo



    Schering-Plough is a research-based company engaged in the discovery, development, manufacturing and marketing of pharmaceutical products worldwide.

    More from Schering-Plough

    Join today and get the latest delivered to your inbox