You may have seen news reports of a shortage of albuterol – a common quick-relief medicine used for asthma – and have concerns.
The shortage is of liquid albuterol used for nebulizers mostly in the hospital setting.
Albuterol inhalers are not affected at this time. Most people with asthma will have other options for quick-relief medicines.
If you use nebulized albuterol, we have information to help you work with your doctor and pharmacist to find an alternative.
What Do I Need to Know About the Albuterol Shortage?
As of the date of this blog post, the shortage is mostly seen in liquid albuterol used by hospitals and outpatient clinics.
If you use a nebulizer or care for someone who does, you may be affected by this shortage. If so, you may be able to switch to an albuterol inhaler used with a spacer or valved holding chamber. These work just as well for all ages as nebulized albuterol. Albuterol inhalers and spacing devices are currently widely available.
If you or the person you care for do not have the physical ability or hand coordination to use an inhaler with a spacer or chamber, there are metered dose albuterol inhalers that are breath actuated and do not require pressing down on the canister (for example, ProAir RespiClick®).
If you are not able to use an MDI inhaler with a spacer, your doctor may recommend a different medicine and inhaler type or refer you to occupational therapy for help.
Should I Be Concerned About the Shortage?
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) community has not let us know that they can’t find an alternative that works for them during this albuterol solution shortage. If you have had trouble getting albuterol due to this shortage, please contact us. (You can comment on the blog below or contact us privately.)
Also, members of AAFA’s Medical Scientific Council have not seen widespread issues with asthma care due to this shortage. But our asthma community and medical experts have shared many other barriers to medicine access not related to the shortage. These include high costs, pharmacist shortages, and pre-authorizations or step therapy requirements that prevent people from getting the care they need.
What Can I Do If I Can’t Get Albuterol?
The asthma community is resourceful. People with asthma and doctors are working together to address the current supply issues. Most of you are not seeing problems because effective alternatives exist.
At this time, there is not a crisis. But if you have challenges getting nebulized albuterol in your area, please reach out so we can help you navigate this challenge.
Medical Review: March 2023 by Jeffrey G. Demain, MD
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