If it looks like a duck

If it looks like a duck, and walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck… it’ll be a tiger. The interweb is full of imitations. Nike shoes, Dolce and Gabbana perfume, Breitling and Rolex watches. All fake, all illegal but mostly harmless. The worst a fake Rolex can do is tell you the wrong time – unless you paid for it in which case it can do so expensively! Fake Viagra might raise a smile and not a lot else, and a lot of illegal drugs contain as much toxic ingredient as active. But how about us asthmatics. asthma_inhaler_256Some imbecile has thought it a great wheeze [yes, intended] to market an inhaler identical in appearance to an asthmatic’s reliever inhaler. You can even buy them on Amazon UK. Admittedly they’re expensive. Ostensibly an aromatherapy vaporiser, the advertising highlights the ‘smelly proof’ bag so there’s a fairly good idea of what sort of oil is going to be puffed with it. I have pro-legalisation attitude, know folk who use cannabis medicinally as well as recreationally, and I’m not moralising here about how we get our jollies. But make it look like what it is! Imagine a child in the throws of an asthma attack, being offered (mistakenly or as a prank) an inhaler full of not-Salbutamol. At best he gets no relief. From an early age, Asthmatics are trained to know how to self-medicate their disease. Grab the blue one, take a puff, relax until the symptoms go away. There may be no time to check. Yes, I’m pretty pissed about this. I’ve been an Asthmatic since birth. Managed not to actually die a couple of times, and many more times I’ve had to wait and see. I’m fine, mostly, although you won’t ever see me running. This just feels so wrong, so reckless, I needed to vent [a-ha] about it. I’ve also written to my MP Steve Webb, and to Amazon UK, and the MHRA is next on the list.

Hi Steve

I don’t know if you are an asthmatic or know any friends or family who suffer. If so you’ll probably be aware they rely heavily on preventer and reliever inhaler devices. I am a life long asthma sufferer and I was pointed today at a petition site calling for the banning of imitation devices.http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/get-these-things-off-the-market/?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=button

These devices look identical to a blue reliever inhaler, but function as an e-cigarette. Imagine a child suffering an asthma attack, being handed one of these instead, by a joker or someone simply making a mistake. The consequences could be tragic. Imagine another child playfully swapping an asthma sufferers inhaler with an e-cigarette lookalike. Kids play, it’s in their nature. It is the role of adults to ensure their play is as free of harm as possible.

I can’t imagine how something like this was passed for sale in the first place, but it appears for example on the Amazon UK site. 
http://www.amazon.co.uk/PUFFiT-Portable-Vaporizer-Aromatherapy-Grinder/dp/B00CJF1Y22 They are almost prohibitively expensive, which kind of helps, but even so they are seeking to impersonate a medicine.

I believe these should be banned, if not placed under the most severe labelling regime. I ask that you do what you can to make this happen. Please let me know how you feel about this matter. I will be sharing this letter and any response on my blog. Many thanks.

Mark Rosher /| www.rosher.net

2 thoughts on “If it looks like a duck

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  1. Dear Mark,

    Thank you for your email. What will they think of next?! I entirely agree with you that an e-cigarette disguised as a Ventolin inhaler needs to be very clearly marked to ensure that asthma sufferers are not misled.

    I will raise this concern with the Department of Health to see what can be done to tackle this, and will contact you again when I have a response.

    Kind regards,
    Yours sincerely

    Steve Webb MP

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  2. Had a reply from Steve and the Department of Health on 10th July 2014.

    The DoH have written to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency and the Trading Standards Institute. The TSI have themselves written to Hounslow Trading Standards, the home authority for GlaxoSmithKline who own Ventolin, with a request to “investigate the legality of the device and whether adequate information is provided to the consumer.”

    More if I get it.

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