Albuterol Inhaler Shortage Due to COVID-19 Could Impact People With Asthma

 

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America is sharing this press release from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) to bring you the latest asthma and allergy news quickly.

Important: Even though drug shortages can be concerning with the coronavirus (COVID-19) spreading, it is important that we all work together to make sure everyone has enough asthma medicine. There some ways you can make sure you have the medicine you need while not depleting the existing supply. 

Remember, if your asthma is well-controlled, you will not need to use as much albuterol (a quick-relief, or "rescue" asthma medicine). It is important to manage your asthma triggers and take your long-term control medicine as prescribed to prevent asthma episodes. Learn more about gaining asthma control in our free, self-paced course called ASTHMA Care: www.aafa.org/asthmacare.

A message to asthma sufferers about a shortage of albuterol metered dose inhalers

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill (March 20, 2020) - Certain areas of the country are experiencing shortages of albuterol inhalers. The shortage will probably spread throughout the U.S., although it is not a production problem. The shortage is occurring because of the increased use of albuterol inhalers in hospitals for COVID-19 and suspected COVID-19 patients to help with respiratory issues.  There is a concern that nebulizers used on patients with COVID-19 in the hospital could spread the virus in the air. But the possible risk is to hospitalized patients with COVID-19 – not to patients using their nebulizer at home as directed.

What should you do if you or your child are having trouble getting an albuterol inhaler? The recommendations below from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) offer practical ideas for coping:

  • First, don’t panic. Check your inhaler to make sure it still has medicine.
  • If necessary, you can likely use your expired albuterol inhaler as it is probably still at least partially effective.
  • If you can’t get a refill on your metered dose inhaler, contact your allergist or health care provider as there are other options available which they can prescribe.
  • It is important that you not overuse your albuterol inhaler, as one canister should last for months.

ACAAI will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available.

About ACAAI

The ACAAI is a professional medical organization of more than 6,000 allergists-immunologists and allied health professionals, headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill. The College fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with others toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy and research. ACAAI allergists are board-certified physicians trained to diagnose allergies and asthma, administer immunotherapy, and provide patients with the best treatment outcomes. For more information and to find relief, visit AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org.

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LAC posted:

AAFA, would you please intensify and increase the advocacy efforts to get dogs out of public buildings on behalf of us who have severe dander-triggered asthma? We still have to shop at grocery stores for essential items like food and paper products and the dander in these stores will necessitate albuterol usage that would not otherwise be necessary if people's pet dogs and fake "service" animals were not allowed in stores! I've had to "waste" my albuterol nearly every time I enter one particular store that I can't avoid. This COVID-19 crisis time is ripe and crucial for you to advocate on our behalf to end this worsening public danger of dander permeating stores.

Hi Laurie, 

Thanks for commenting. We are of course aware of the growing number pets in public spaces and the negative impacts on those with severe dander-triggered asthma. We actively advocate to Congress to ensure that the needs of the asthma and allergy community are considered all the time, but especially in this time of crisis

I know you are aware of the current proposed rule on Traveling by Air With Service Animals and we believe this is a good first step in recognizing the fraudulent use of emotional support animals. We are also asking that the Department of Transportation goes a step further and explicitly requires airlines to accommodate the needs and rights of people living with asthma and allergies when they fly.

Additionally, to better understand the experiences of people traveling with asthma and environmental allergies (like pet dander allergy), AAFA is seeking willing participants to fill out this survey. We will use the findings of the survey advocate for the asthma and allergy community. 

Thanks again and we will continue to work on this issue. 

AAFA, would you please intensify and increase the advocacy efforts to get dogs out of public buildings on behalf of us who have severe dander-triggered asthma? We still have to shop at grocery stores for essential items like food and paper products and the dander in these stores will necessitate albuterol usage that would not otherwise be necessary if people's pet dogs and fake "service" animals were not allowed in stores! I've had to "waste" my albuterol nearly every time I enter one particular store that I can't avoid. This COVID-19 crisis time is ripe and crucial for you to advocate on our behalf to end this worsening public danger of dander permeating stores.

Last edited by LAC
Kathy P posted:

Hi TiffYG2133 - I'm sorry to hear you were not able to get your Ventolin inhaler refilled at the pharmacy. Is your pharmacy rationing them?

How often are you needing to use Ventolin? If you are using it more than twice per week, that is an indication that your asthma may not be well-controlled. If that's the case, you should let your doctor know so they can adjust your asthma treatment plan.

If you don't have a sufficient supply for Ventolin left, you may want to talk to your doctor to let them know. 

No it's not well controlled and adjusting my asthma treatment plan will not do a **** thing to improve it, my lung function is only at 25% I'm also on Flovent and Spiriva and singulair all for my asthma and it's still not controlled I use my ventolin many times during the day, and go through 1 rescue inhaler every 15 days, and no matter what my asthma doctor puts me on it has not improved, my asthma was under control when they made the Maxair autoinhaler but since they stopped making it I have gotten progressively worse and there seems to be nothing my doctor can do about it but to continue giving me the ventolin until something better comes along and now I can't get that, so if this virus doesn't take me out I'm sure an asthma attack will. 

Hi TiffYG2133 - I'm sorry to hear you were not able to get your Ventolin inhaler refilled at the pharmacy. Is your pharmacy rationing them?

How often are you needing to use Ventolin? If you are using it more than twice per week, that is an indication that your asthma may not be well-controlled. If that's the case, you should let your doctor know so they can adjust your asthma treatment plan.

If you don't have a sufficient supply for Ventolin left, you may want to talk to your doctor to let them know. 

I thought using an anti-inflammatory was bad for the corona virus that's why they tell people not to use ibuprofen, are inhalers not anti-inflammatory? My pharmacy is refusing to give me my Ventolin because they say it needs to go to people who suffer from the virus . . .WTF? It is my lifeline and I rely on it to keep me alive so I'd say I need it more than these people who don't listen to the "shelter in place" laws and go out anyways and get themselves infected, when those of us who are too afraid to even leave their homes have to suffer and possibly die anyways from a totally preventable asthma attack because of this shortage. It's BS and I should be able to get a **** inhaler!   

Last edited by TiffYG2133

I am so thankful I switched to the nebulizer Albuterol before the virus spread. I am now getting both a new tabletop nebulizer and a portable nebulizer to take with me on the go. They're the Pulmo-Aide Compact nebulizer compressor and the Traveler Portable Nebulizer Compressor respectively. Hope this helps others that are afraid of running out of their rescue inhaler.

This isn't surprising. Ventolin-type bronchodilator inhalers are always used in people experiencing significant "breathing problems" related to respiratory infections such as flu, bronchitis, pneumonia, etc., who don't have underlying respiratory diseases such as asthma, COPD, etc. Why would COVID-19 be any different? I hope every asthmatic has the medication they need. On my end, I have two new Teva-Salbutamol HFA inhalers (unused in the box) on hand as well as the Teva-Salbutamol HFA inhaler that was used to help me breathe two weeks ago in the ER. I also have one physician sample each of AstraZeneca's Symbicort 200/6 and Boehringer Ingelheim's Spiriva Respimat 2.5 mcg on hand. Thank God I'm okay for a little while.

Iris1971

 

Last edited by Iris1971

My pharmacy manager was very helpful, as always. My husband will be picking up a ProAir inhaler for me this afternoon. I can get Albuterol ampules on Monday. I need refill authorization. 

I want to be sure I don't run out of Albuterol, due to my condition, and where I live. Add in the fact that pollen plays a role in this.I do not want to end up in the ER due to not being able to breathe. 

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