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Likely to get worse, according to asthma experts

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It is the nation’s leading manufacturer of liquid albuterol, a life-saving drug used as an inhalable mist to treat asthma attacks, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, RSV, and even COVID. officially closed last month After a long struggle with bankruptcy, it has significantly reduced its inventory of drugs that have been in short supply since last summer.

Currently, 25 million Americans with asthma and other respiratory ailments or ailments will likely die if federal health officials do not act quickly to reestablish liquid albuterol manufacturing in the United States. Doctors fear they will even pay with their lives.

Albuterol and other drugs are known as rescue drugs because they are used to treat asthma symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath, and wheezing.Other types of drugs, including corticosteroids, address underlying inflammation. It is known as a maintenance or long-term control drug because it is taken daily to reduce the chances of needing rescue medication.

The timing of the shortage could not have been worse.

With asthma exacerbations frequent as the spring allergy season begins, doctors fear people won’t have access to drugs that help relieve or prevent breathing problems by relaxing and opening the airways. doing.

Luckily, albuterol inhalers are not in short supply and are not expected to be in short supply any time soon.

Liquid versions of medicines that are inhaled as a mist through a device called a nebulizer are usually used in children who are not old enough to use an inhaler correctly or when they have more serious symptoms or conditions. increase.

There are other rescue drugs that people can use with a nebulizer, but they are more expensive brand name drugs.

“The current supply in the US may be fine for three to four months, and then we’ll be back in season for respiratory infections,” American Lung Association. “For asthma sufferers with allergic asthma, overstocking during pollen season can cause problems sooner or later.”

Provider-initiated Last summer I noticed a lack of liquid albuterol That’s when two US drug makers, Akorn and Nephron Pharmaceuticals, suspended production even as RSV, flu and COVID spread like wildfire, especially among children.

The FDA has approved the drug for its October 2022 Drug Shortage List.

Illinois-based company Akorn first filed for bankruptcy in 2020, but the company closed in February and laid off all its employees after it couldn’t find a buyer.

Another company that supplies liquid albuterol to the United States, Nephron, told The Washington Post:We are currently producing albuterol 0.5 ASAP To address this shortage is to offer to the market and to patients. ”

In a statement sent to multiple media outlets, the FDA said: If other manufacturers fail to meet market demand, the FDA says it will “continue to work with all available tools to resolve or mitigate the impact of any shortages.”

The FDA did not respond to BuzzFeed News’ request for comment, including whether it plans to outsource liquid albuterol from other countries to stay ahead of worsening supply shortages.

The shortage is already affecting families. Maura had to rush to a clinic this week after seeing a single mother of four children with asthma because there was no pharmacy nearby that carried liquid albuterol for her teenage girl who was having an asthma attack. said there wasn’t.

The clinic had several drugs in stock, so Mora recommended nebulizer treatment for the teenager. .

What You Can Do With Liquid Albuterol Deficiency

First and foremost, if you find a well-stocked pharmacy, you don’t want to hoard drugs.

Second, if you don’t already have an albuterol inhaler, you’ll want to get one, as it can save lives when no other treatment is available.

Third, for those who normally use liquid albuterol in a nebulizer, Mora consults with a doctor to recommend levalbuterol (sold under the brand name Xopenex) or ipratropium bromide/salbutamol (sold under the brand name Xopenex). We propose to discuss options for alternative medications that can be nebulized, such as. Her name is DuoNeb. )

These alternatives are not in short supply, but they are more expensive.

People whose asthma usually worsens during allergy season may also ask their doctor about increasing the dosage of other medications, including steroids.

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