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Why were spinhalers discontinued?

What, I hear some of you cry, is a spinhaler? When I was first diagnosed with asthma, back in the late 1960s, I was put on medication called Intal Co. It came in the form of a dry powder contained within clear orange and white capsules (called spincaps). These capsules were put into a small plastic device called a spinhaler which had a mechanism for piercing the capsules; the contents could then be breathed into the lungs on a couple of sharp intakes of breath. After the dose had been inhaled (easy to see through the transparent coating of the capsule), the capsule was removed and the inhaler put away until the next does was required. I was eight when I was first given one of these and I had no trouble using it at all. No spacer was required to help administer the dose and, even better, I knew if I was using it well because of a whizzing sound the spinhaler made when I was inhaling the medication. Simple!!

When my medication was changed in my mid twenties (I had moved to a different part of the country and was finding that Intal was not as effective at controlling my asthma as it had been) I was put onto an evohaler, and was somewhat surprised at how much more difficult it was to use. Why, I have asked time and again since then, was the spinhaler discontinued? No doctor, or asthma nurse has been able to give me an answer. So I thought I'd ask on the forum. Anyone out there know the reason?

I'm now on an accuhaler.

3 Replies

Hi Maggie,

I was on the spin haler in the 80s and rotahalers (I think that's what they were called)

I think they were given to children because they were easier to take than the puffer type, but I think they were discontinued because they were difficult to take during an attack.

I'm working from memory, so I might not be right.....


That's interesting, because I never had a problem with using it during an attack. Tney took a lot less effort than, say, the modern accuhaler (which takes a strong intake of breath to deliver the dose even when not having an attack and that's speaking as an adult). And the effect of the medication was almost immediate (it was much faster acting than, say, ventolin), but I suspect that was also because the spinhaler was so effective at delivering the medication to the lungs. Admitted the after effects were not always pleasant - the breathing became easier very quickly, but it was accompanied by a thumping headache which lasted for about fifteen minutes or so. Do you remember those?


As an additional thought, given the number of inhalers available (and there were others in use when spinhalers were discontinued), why weren't spinhalers kept for preventer medication - if there were concerns about its ease of use during an attack - with a different inhaler (along with the different medication) for attacks. I did wonder for a while whether cost was the reason, but that argument surely falls flat given that spinhalers could be used again and again and again, unlike accuhalers, which have to replaced when the doses of medication contained within it run out. I was on spinhalers for nigh on eighteen years. In that time I had at most six inhalers, and it may have been as few as four.


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