Albuterol Shortage Alert-Solved?
There is a nationwide shortage of the nebulized drug albuterol sulfate. As of February 27, 2023 the stated reason for the shortage of Albuterol is “supply chain issues related to the pandemic”. Where I might have believed this in 2021, I think now there must be other issues related to the manufacturing of Albuterol by, for example, with Nephron Pharmaceuticals. In addition to the shortage of Albuterol, I’m told that other inhaled drugs such as Duoneb (Albuterol/Ipratropium), and Levabuterol are at critical low levels as well.
In the face of this shortage, what can we do as RTs to ensure that we have the tools to treat the patients that need it? First, use albuterol appropriately and don’t waste it in situations where it’s not doing much bronchodilation, in CHF diagnosis for example. Second, work with our physician partners by providing crucial feedback on the effectiveness of nebulized Albuterol on our patients. That way, we use albuterol only in the most necessary situations such as when it is needed as a rescue drug in say, status asthmaticus. Third consider using long-acting beta adrenergics such as formoterol for daily maintenance instead of rescue drugs like albuterol or levabuterol.
In summary, where the shortage of albuterol is troubling, by conserving we’ll continue to provide appropriate care to our most vulnerable.
Update (31/2023): I’m told that the FDA temporarily shut down Nephron Pharmaceuticals production of Albuterol but now is allowing production while they “work out their compliance issues”. We have not run out of Albuterol and expect to be resupplied soon. This is good news for patient’s needing Albuterol.