1. Health
Daniel More, MD

What's the Best Albuterol HFA: ProAir, Ventolin or Proventil?

By January 15, 2011

Follow me on:

Since the switch from CFC-based to HFA-based albuterol inhalers, a generic version of albuterol no longer exists. Today, there are 3 different brands of albuterol HFA available: ProAir, Ventolin and Proventil. Is there a difference between these inhalers? Does one work better than another? The truth is that all of these inhalers do basically the same thing -- relieve the acute symptoms of asthma, such as wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing and chest tightness. Ventolin, however, has a dose counter, while ProAir and Proventil do not. A dose-counter on a rescue medicine may be an extremely important tool to have, because there really isn't another way to know how much medicine is left in the inhaler. Read more about the different forms of albuterol, and why a dose counter should probably be on all forms of asthma rescue inhalers.

Read more:

September 19, 2011 at 11:22 pm
(1) mike says:

I feel proventil works a better for me. At least between pro air and proventil. It seems to be stronger and last longer from my usual dosage of one puff.

October 28, 2011 at 7:54 am
(2) alishia says:

I feel that the Pro air works better for me. I had been on the proventil for a while but every time I used it I found that it had a rebound effect for me( I needed it more and sooner until I was completely unable to speak because I was so short of breath) I was still having to go to the ER 3-4 times a year. last year I was sent the pro air and I use it before and after I exercise, when I have a cold/URI symptoms and 10 months later I have had no ER visits

November 29, 2011 at 12:12 am
(3) Jasmine says:

ProAir works better for me. I took Ventolin for 3 years before I started using ProAir. When I took Ventolin, my symptoms didn’t go away immediately. I had to continue to use it before I had any relief. Using ProAir, my symptoms go away faster with one or two puffs.

January 4, 2012 at 11:48 am
(4) AdenosinePush says:


Just for your information, all three of these inhalers contain the same medication: a beta-2 agonist called albuterol. It’s just that because of the new HFA propellant standard albuterol MDIs are no longer available generically as they are considered to be a new preparation of the drug.

All three MDIs have excellent quality control and thus there should not be any clinically significant differences between them in terms of performance as they have the same drug and the administration method (the HFA propellant) is roughly the same as well.

That being said, I currently ask my doctor for ProAir because it is the lest expensive of the three right now. Many docs know this and will write for it anyway by default. Just thought I would let you guys know and try to save you some money!

However, if you feel like any one of these has worked better for you than the others I would encourage you to keep using it regardless, placebo effect can be a very powerful thing!

January 12, 2012 at 12:12 am
(5) dm says:

the active medicine is the same, but I pulled out the spec sheets for both and there are some minor ingredients that are different outside. Maybe due to their individual propellent types,

June 1, 2012 at 11:10 am
(6) small loans says:


June 6, 2012 at 2:06 am
(7) instant loans online says:


June 14, 2012 at 5:05 pm
(8) payday loans bad credit says:


July 24, 2012 at 7:17 am
(9) Ravine Hotel says:

Ventolin Albuterol dilates the airways of the lung and is used for treating asthma and other conditions of the lung. Asthma is a breathing problem due to widespread narrowing of the airways bronchial tubes.

January 5, 2013 at 8:52 pm
(10) Justin says:

HFA is ethanol, which is a poor alternative to CFCs. My CFC inhaler just became illegal in 2013, and shoving ethanol in my lungs usually makes things much worse. There is absolutely no oversight on the impurities contained withing the ethanol of these three inhalers, thus no actual quality control. They run out after 120 doses, and my CFC inahler has never done that. In short, the new inhalers are worth less than nothing.

January 11, 2013 at 9:15 pm
(11) Heidi says:

I used albuterol for years and paid less than $10 with my insurance. It worked very well for me. Now that it is no longer available my doctor is prescribing proair. Unfortunately, it does nothing for me so a real waste of money at $45.

January 15, 2013 at 10:32 am
(12) sam says:

Ventolin works best for me .

January 19, 2013 at 10:06 am
(13) mindy says:

I really find my proair inhaler is about worthless, it just seems to be weak in it’s delivery. I have an adapter because I thought it was me, with my delivery. It is not, it is weak. I have also had to pay my higher co pay for it because the pharmacy said it is not generic and all the other are not generic, they don’t make a generic any more I was told. Which to me was back words because years ago I started out with a generic. Kind of weird how it works, going through pharmacology in nursing it is complete opposite of what I was taught in the process of drugs manufacturing. I am sure it is because they changed one element of the generic so they could make more profit.

February 2, 2013 at 11:15 pm
(14) kelly says:

I have had asthma all my life and always used the cfc inhalers. When they changed them to hfa inhalers I noticed the medication was NOT reaching my airways half as well which caused me distress. The new inhalers simply do not work as well in delivering the medication to my airways and I frankly don’t care what the experts have to say to the contrary, I know what I’m talking about since I’ve used them my entire life. I guess that makes me an “expert” in some way. The best hfa inhaler I have found to date is Ventolin. Many of these “experts” have never personally used inhalers and another fun little fact: lots of them get sweet little paid vacations as rewards from the Pharmaceutical companies for pushing their medications. Yes I’m sure the cfc emissions that used to go directly down my throat into my airways was a big threat to the ozone layer of the Earth *sarcasm* ridiculous…People are blind, you can’t get generic albuterol anymore, coincedence? I think not, its allllll about the money honey!

February 3, 2013 at 8:56 pm
(15) losing breath says:

my pro air has a counter on it for some reason. wish any of these worked for me. suffocationg, Rod

February 23, 2013 at 10:49 pm
(16) Cali says:

I have had Asthma since I was on the 6th grade. I have been using inhalers for the last 35 yrs. I have found that Proventil works far better than ProAir. I would get Ventilin if it wasnt 100.00 a pop. In any case. My dad was sent to the emergency room over christmas (he has copd), and also uses inhalers regularly. He has also said that ProAir is no good, but it is the only one Medicaid will allow him to use. While in the emergency room, I asked the nurse to show my dad how to use an inhaler, becasue he may not be using it correctly, since it seems it never works. We told her he uses ProAir, and she said it’s terrible, right ? She showed him how to use it, and she said what she does is she goes down to Mexico twice a yr, and gets HER inhalers there, because they have the good old fashioned albuterals at any pharmacy in Mexico, the ones we used to be able to use here in the US.. and for far less money. She said since they have made them “Ozone Friendly” … they dont work for anyone, anymore. Anyway … so my mom went down to Mexico 2 wks ago, and picked up about 15 albuterals for 70.00. A few for me, and the rest for my dad. She said when she comes down in April, she’ll take another trip down there, and get a bunch more. I have not tried it yet. But from everything Ive researched on the web, it’s the same exact product we were allowed to use 2 yrs ago.

April 6, 2013 at 11:06 am
(17) Linda says:

There is a way to tell how much is left in your in haler with out the dosage meter. Take the canister and drop it in a glass of water, the part that remains on top is the empty part. It won’t give you exact numbers, but it will give you an idea if it’s half full or a quarter full.

April 30, 2013 at 8:09 am
(18) Diane says:

Cali, where in mexico does your mom go?

May 2, 2013 at 9:39 am
(19) Brian says:

Ever since the change in the propellent used (HFA) I switched to Ventolin. I had always used Proventil and then when the non HFA version became available as a Generic I was using whatever Albuterol was available in the generic form.

But when the makers of Proventil had the reformulate their product to HFA, it just did not work for me and provide the same level of releif. Also, the device would get routinely clogged.

Ever since 3 or 4 prescriptions of the HFA Proventil I had to try something else. I went with Ventolin and it is much better. Yes, they are both Albuterol, but the HFA propellent formulation in the Ventolin works much better and provides much faster less irritative releif.

I am 53 years old and i have had allergy induced/temperature difference induced asthma ever since I can remember.

May 6, 2013 at 3:50 pm
(20) Gary says:

Kaiser switched to Pro Air 3 years ago. I have had trouble ever since.
The Pro Air are completely ineffective it takes 5 huff to have any relief at all. An if you leave it in your pocket all day the heat from you body renders it useless and you jest have to toss then in the trash. I have complained since Kaiser switch venders to no effect. At a different medical group I was given Ventilin, One huff relief ! But I do not know if it was CFC inhaler, as it was 2 years ago. It seamed a much more power full delivery of the medicine.

June 28, 2013 at 11:57 pm
(21) Janice says:

I have used ProAir inhalers for a really long time. Recently they started coming with the dose counter. Initially, I was very excited about the dose counter since I have always thought they should have a dose counter. But, I am now feeling the counter mechanism may be interfering with the dosage. Last month I used a whole 200 dose inhaler in one week (literally 7 days) because the puffs weren’t giving me any relief so I kept puffing (dr visits & prednisone mixed in between). Tonight after my walk, i used the dose counter inhaler 3 times with no relief. I was really struggling for a breath so I put the canister in an old inhaler case that doesn’t have the dose counter and was 100% better with 1 puff. Dose counter=good idea, but they need to go back to the drawing board.

August 13, 2013 at 5:18 pm
(22) lee says:

This needs updating, as ProAir now has counter (dose meter) as does Ventollin and Combivent.
Question: Re Combivent ‘s additional ingredient: ipratropium bromide.
What is the purpose of this?

August 13, 2013 at 9:41 pm
(23) DS says:


October 24, 2013 at 9:39 am
(24) k wiliams says:

ProAir has ethanol in it. My 3 year old daughter used to get Ventolin. The Medicaid decided to switch her over to the ProAir….and its not working. They said Medicaid would prescribe the Ventolin as long as her DR. wrote medically necessary on the prescription. Hoping we can get it today, and get her some relief. Anyone else been told about the ethanol?

November 9, 2013 at 12:30 pm
(25) Leeza says:

Canadian pharmacies offer generic albuterol at half the price. Ask your doc to prescribe three at a time because they take awhile to arrive.

November 18, 2013 at 11:47 am
(26) js says:

Although the active ingredient is the same, there has to be a difference in the three besides the dose counter. I have been an asthmatic for 40 years (both before and after the propellant change). Proventil and ProAir have never worked as well for me as Ventolin.

February 7, 2014 at 6:24 am
(27) Generic HFA Inhalers says:

buy generic HFA inhalers at http://www.canadadrugs.com

February 21, 2014 at 3:57 pm
(28) Andrea says:

I have been taking Proventil for many many years. When they changed it to the HFA, I had to take it more and more often, and it does NOT clear out any congestion…in fact it is worse. My mother let me try her Pro Air, and finally, relief. That being said, I would give my eye teeth to have the old style Ventilin and Proventil. What is “new and improved” is not always better.

February 28, 2014 at 12:33 pm
(29) Garry says:

Since we were force to use the new improved inhalers(mine being ProAir) I have not had the relief that the “old” inhalers gave me. My proair which has a counter on it looses its effectiveness at the 100 puff mark. So Im only getting half of the medication I pay for (which does not relief my systoms near as good as the old inhalers).
I did lodge a complaint with the FDA web site about proair. About a week later I got a call from the Proair Company. I told her my concerns and about running out of medication around the 100 puff mark. She did listen to my concerns then told me to wash it our ever few puffs. He had me send in some of my old inhalers that I had shown to my doctor. I got a letter about a month later saying that PorAir had tested my old inhalers and they worked perfectly..Maybe they work perfectly to their standards that they are force to go by. But in the real world of using them its all BS.

March 29, 2014 at 3:11 pm
(30) Renee says:

I have been suffering from asthma most of my life and also had to endure the trial and error of these medications. The manufacturers are using us all as their personal guinea pigs to make themselves wealthier. I find Ventolin to be the most effective & agree with complaints of Pro-Air. Its delivery is weak and in most cases is Not giving enough relief in a single dose. Causing people to overdose and have more frequent doctor & hospital visits. And they want to use these changes as an excuse to protect the ozone, well if they were that concerned about better air quality then smoking should be banned & cars with failing emissions should not driven due to high pollution levels. All of us need to form some sort of coalition, so that our voices are hear loud and clear while we still have some breath left. If we remain silent, we may not live see any changes made. I feel your pain.
Good luck to everyone

Leave a Comment

Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.