Asthma Drug Shortage Worsening 


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An Illinois-based company recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which has worsened the already-existing shortage of liquid albuterol used to treat breathing problems such as asthma. 

According to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, the shortage of liquid albuterol began last summer and has been on the US Food and Drug Administration’s shortages list since October. The recent shutdown of Akorn Operating Company, a major supplier to US hospitals, has left many hospitals scrambling for alternatives. The shutdown of the company worries doctors, especially as they move from the respiratory season where demand is high due to RSV, COVID-19, and the flu, to the spring allergy season where asthma symptoms are prevalent. 

Children’s hospitals are especially affected as liquid albuterol is a staple in their treatment options. 

Hospitals are concerned that they may have to delay discharging patients because they do not have enough medicine or may see an increase in emergency room visits for patients with breathing problems who do not have access to medicine. Hospital pharmacies are aware of the supply issues and try to keep a higher stock of medicine on hand. Although some hospitals have been largely unaffected so far, others have had to switch to different medication to treat patients, which is concerning as we move into a bad season for asthma. 

There are also concerns about the supply chain and its just-in-time delivery system. 

It’s vital to think more strategically about these shortages, especially regarding pediatric medicine. It’s essential to keep a higher stock of medicine and implement protocols to conserve doses, especially since these shortages may persist in the future.


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