Boehringer Ingelheim has announced that due to the release of its new reusable, soft mist inhaler - Respimat reusable - 1.2 million fewer inhalers may be disposed of each year in the UK.

Respimat will now be available as a reusable inhaler that can be used with up to six cartridges, which will create a 71% reduction in the product carbon footprint, compared with using six of the previous Respimat (disposable) inhalers with one cartridge each.

The new reusable method delivers the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) medications Spiolto (tiotropium/olodaterol), Striverdi (olodaterol) and Spiriva (tiotropium) as well as the asthma medication Spiriva (tiotropium).

Pharmacists are likely to see people with COPD and asthma more regularly than a GP or nurse, so they play a pivotal role in educating patients on their medicines and inhaler technique, whether this is part of routine practice or a specialist commissioned pharmacy-based inhaler technique check service.

Reusing the Respimat inhalers is an “important step” towards being more responsible over our use of plastics within respiratory medicine, said Anna Murphy, consultant respiratory pharmacist, University Hospital of Leicester NHS Trust.

She continued, “community pharmacists see respiratory patients regularly, so we have a vital role to play in demonstrating the inhalers, helping patients understand the change to a reusable Respimat inhaler, reminding them not to throw it away each time it runs out, and explaining that they can reuse the inhaler with six refills.”

The reusable inhaler was devised following patient and healthcare professional feedback, as part of the NHS’ Long Term Plan, which outlines its targets to reduce carbon emissions and single-use plastics.